New building will be an economic boom to the region
Wilkes University’s new science building will benefit more than just students. The Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development estimates the annual economic impact of the project to be $5.8 million. This will be generated from additional employees, grant money and operational purchases.
Enhancing science education at Wilkes by improving facilities will expand the region’s energy, life sciences and engineering industries by supplying next-generation scientists, leaders, entrepreneurs and technicians to conduct valuable applied research and launch new businesses. Moreover, the new facility will enhance the attractiveness of Wilkes-Barre as a destination for college students, especially those with an interest in the science and engineering fields. These students contribute to the economic health of the region by renting apartments, attending entertainment venues, and by helping to start or grow businesses.
The new building will support the work of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research for Northeastern Pennsylvania, dedicated to studying the impact of Marcellus shale drilling on the region’s water quality and providing the public with balanced, scientifically based information and outreach about the development of the Marcellus shale formation. The institute has already attracted a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
A new science building will also generate job growth by fueling businesses resulting from Wilkes’ collaboration with The Commonwealth Medical College. Two joint research projects are already under way, and planned future projects will be housed in laboratories in the new building. This research will be focused on finding cures for the region’s most common diseases; resulting businesses could produce medicines in the region.
Over the 18-month construction period, the $35 million project will generate a total economic impact of $20.5 million in Luzerne County and $46.8 million in Pennsylvania overall. In total, there will be 595 jobs created during the construction period, with 345 jobs in Luzerne County. These jobs are expected to generate $24.7 million and $14.5 million in earnings, respectively.