Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Touro Boosts Revival Effort at Shipyard

Touro Boosts Revival Effort at Shipyard
By Sarah Rohrs/Times-Herald, Vallejo

Generating jobs and pumping millions into the local economy, Touro University is a powerful hand in the effort to transform Mare Island Naval Shipyard, according to an economic impact report scheduled to be released today.

Touro's students and staff, and the school itself, have roles in creating valuable dollars into housing and transportation in the Vallejo area, as well as restaurants, services and local businesses, the study determined.

An impact study conducted by Bay Area Economics estimates that Touro University generates $16.9 million and 143 jobs annually.

The 'trickle down" impact of Touro's income in the local economy is even more - a total of $27.5 million and 229 jobs annually, the study concluded.

'Touro University-California on Mare Island is a key economic generator for Vallejo and Solano County, and helps regenerate the jobs lost by the closure of the U.S. Naval Shipyard," the report concludes.

The Touro-commissioned economic impact report comes out as the university and a consortium of developers plan to go to City Hall with a proposal to convert Mare Island's north end into a university village.

Vallejo Mayor Tony Intintoli said he is not surprised to hear about the school's economic benefits for Vallejo and the surrounding area.

'It enhances the community in many ways to have places of higher education here," Intintoli said. Touro University employs 143 staff with a total annual payroll of $11.3 million.

Fifty-eight live in Vallejo and another 21 live elsewhere in Solano County, the report said.

One surprising point from the report is that Touro last year issued more medical degrees than Stanford University, Touro's vice president for administration Richard Hassel said. The two schools are the only two private, nonprofit medical schools in Northern California, he said. Touro conferred 109 medical degrees last year while Stanford conferred 90.

Above all else, the school is a success story in Mare Island's changing landscape, Hassel said.

'There's been a lot of setbacks in the reuse of Mare Island. There's not been the jobs and sales tax revenues we had hoped. Touro is an exception," said Hassel, also the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce president-elect.

A pioneer of sorts, Touro opened its doors in 1999, one of the first businesses to occupy naval shipyard buildings after the base closed in 1996. Touro was founded in New York in 1970, and also has a campus in Nevada.

Touro's Vallejo campus enrollment has grown yearly. In 2002-03, some 432 students were enrolled. Last year 761 students attended, and this year nearly 900 are enrolled, Hassel said.

Some 2,500 students are expected in the future. Touro intends to invest more than $92 million as it expands its undergraduate health sciences curriculum, and adds nursing and business programs, the report said. A master plan calls for adding 518,000 square feet to campus facilities.

Within its 44-acre campus, Touro offers professional graduate degrees through College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences and College of Education.

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