ECONOMIC ENGINE THAT COULD
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In addition to all the students, faculty and staff, the campus and Westwood attract more than 2 million visitors a year. They come for cultural, sports and other events; continuing education; the medical center; and visits by prospective students and their families. UCLA LIVE each year presents an average of 200 performances to an audience of more than 200,000. Other campus attractions, such as the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, draw many more tens of thousands of people to the area. All those visitors spent more than $30 million last year, and that spending created more than a thousand jobs. The tax revenue that accrued to state, county and local governments from all of that economic activity amounted to nearly $6 million.
It is that intersection of culture and commerce that creates such a vital mix æ cultural events draw people to the area; the retail shops and restaurants keep them there.
But the benefits reach far beyond the boundaries of Westwood. Ever since UCLA moved its home football games to Pasadena's Rose Bowl, for example, that city has reaped benefits from fees paid for use of the stadium and from the crowds attracted to the area on game days.
The size and range of UCLA's economic impact may be surprising, but any institution or entity influences the economy from the spending of people associated with it. Not so obvious, however, are the university's direct and profitable connections to the private sector.
The Anderson School, UCLA's management school, offers a certificate program called Management Development for Entrepreneurs (MDE), which is targeted at owners and managers of small, growing businesses and, in some cases, nonprofit agencies and start-ups.
Victoria Lowe completed the program in 1999. She started Alert Staffing in her living room in 1994 and seven years later, the firm is a $204-million operation with 125 paid employees. It was ranked the No. 1 woman-owned business in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal and is the largest minority-staffing firm in the United States.
She says the course æ which has graduated about 400 people and now is offered in both Southern and Northern California æ and its associated business-improvement project "assisted me in driving the business and taking it to the next level."
R. Vijayaraghavan, CEO of Comit Systems, a Silicon Valley-based contract engineering company, is a 1996 graduate, and his company has made the list of the 100 fastest-growing private companies in the Silicon Valley every year since then.
Add into this mix UCLA Extension, which is an economic powerhouse in its own right, offering some 4,500 courses that reach more than 65,000 adults, many of whom set off with their newly acquired skills to establish businesses of their own.