UC Davis Aggie Square Will Add Billions to Sacramento Region

Renderjng of Aggie Square from Stockton Boulevard
This sketch of the Aggie Square project simulates the view from Stockton Boulevard, where the UC Davis Sacramento Campus will open up to the community. Ahead is the Lifelong Learning Building and Innovation Hall. (Courtesy of ZGF)

New analysis from an economic research firm predicts Aggie Square at the UC Davis Sacramento campus will add nearly $5 billion to the Sacramento region’s economy each year and support 25,000 ongoing jobs.

Design for the first stage of the project, a partnership between the University of California, Davis, the city of Sacramento and developer Wexford Science & Technology, has just been completed, as has an economic impact report, developed by Economic & Planning Systems.

‘Poised to be an economic engine’

The report also predicts an additional $2.6 billion in one-time economic impact, with more than  15,000 job years — the equivalent of 15,000 people working in one year — generated from Aggie Square’s two phases of construction.   

“When we launched the Aggie Square project in 2018, our goals included bringing economic and workforce development to the Sacramento region,” said UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May. “I’m thrilled to see this coming together in Phase 1 — bringing the university, the community and industry together to better connect and collaborate.”

“‘Knowledge Communities’ like Aggie Square can amplify the talent, ideas, and innovation of a strong research university like UC Davis, and extend them into products and services that improve the human condition and create job opportunities for residents and economic development impact for the Sacramento region,” said Jim Berens, founder and CEO of Wexford Science & Technology.

Sacramento’s Mayor Darrell Steinberg emphasized the immediate and long-term benefits of the project. “Aggie Square is poised to be an economic engine in Sacramento, bringing jobs and resources to the region at a time when investment in our city is critical to our future. By being a part of the process, the City of Sacramento can make sure the community benefits and is connected to the project in a meaningful way, and that young people growing up in our neighborhoods will get the training they need to be first in line to fill jobs at Aggie Square when they become a reality.”

The analysis is based on newly released project designs from Wexford, the private developer partner UC Davis selected in December 2019 to build Aggie Square.

New revenues for city and county

Since Aggie Square’s unique public-private partnership model leverages private investment, the project will also generate nearly $5.1 million annually in new revenues for the city of Sacramento for Phases 1 and 2, and nearly $3.1 million in new county revenues.

Notably, the annual economic impact and city revenue estimates included in the report do not capture the spin-off economic benefits and shared wealth creation that will come from start-ups that “go big,” business growth extending beyond Aggie Square, company relocations to the region at sites other than Aggie Square, and catalytic innovations and inventions sparked by the ecosystem at Aggie Square.

Details on scope and nature of project

The new designs developed by Wexford and UC Davis provide important details on the scope and nature of the project. Phase 1 of the project is approximately 1.2 million square feet and comprises: a lifelong learning office and classroom building; two science and technology buildings; housing, primarily for students; community serving uses; a parking structure; and public spaces. Each building is anchored by UC Davis programs and configured to co-locate private industry investment, robust “innovation infrastructure” for startups, as well as community-based partnerships.

Wexford is taking the lead on financing for the project, investing $1.1 billion in UC Davis and Sacramento by building Aggie Square’s first phase. UC Davis will be a major tenant, alongside industry partners and community-facing programs in areas that complement university research and operations.

Community-focused offerings

As a public-private partnership, the Aggie Square model allows the university to increase its community-focused offerings that would not be available by simply expanding the university’s medical center.

The social benefits of the project are taking shape, said Robert Segar, planning director for Aggie Square. “Programs that can create healthier food access for schoolchildren, such as the Alice Waters Institute for Edible Education, are the kind of partnerships that exist because the university is involved.”

Added Segar, “We have an opportunity, through Aggie Square, to deliver new value to our communities and to create a roadmap for people across the street and across the region to better access the resources of this great university.”

Comment from other key figures

Other key figures in the city, county and state offered enthusiasm for Aggie Square.

Councilmember Eric Guerra (District 6) — “The Aggie Square project will have significant impacts for the surrounding neighborhoods and region in the short and long term. A critical partnership with UC Davis and the community stakeholders will ensure that the benefits materialize for the surrounding communities for better jobs, housing and local opportunity.”

Councilmember Jay Schenirer (District 5) — “It’s exciting to see UC Davis and the City working together on a project that will ultimately bring jobs and increased economic prosperity to the region. We must also keep in mind the need for affordable housing and local employment to ensure positive impacts for those in the surrounding communities.”

Chairman of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Phil Serna (District 1) — “It’s not often local communities enjoy the kind of economic momentum we’re experiencing in partnership with UC Davis. Capitalizing on it comes in the form of thousands of new, permanent and high-wage jobs for my constituents.”

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (7th District) — “Aggie Square is a win for the State of California, UC Davis and the City of Sacramento. The partnership and new Sacramento satellite campus will bring nearly $5 billion to the local economy. Not only will this allow the University of California to expand education opportunities, it will foster economic development and job growth throughout the Sacramento region.”

State Sen. Dr. Richard Pan — “I applaud Chancellor May’s leadership in bringing UC Davis across the causeway to make UC Davis an integral part of the Sacramento region beyond the health system campus. The university’s investment in Aggie Square will be a critical driver for economic development and quality job creation in the Sacramento region.”

U.S. Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-6) — “As we face the uncertainty of crisis, it is imperative that we continue to find ways to catalyze our economic growth and create new, innovative jobs. Aggie Square is uniquely situated to be a key conductor between the innovation happening in Sacramento and the cutting-edge exploration happening at UC Davis. It is clear that this economic development and job growth will not stop at the confines of UC Davis and Aggie Square, but will create a positive wave into the community as these impacts manifest themselves into future opportunities for our region.”

Cassandra Jennings, president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Urban League — “The projected economic impact of Aggie Square is an opportunity for social transformation, lifting up neighborhoods and moving beyond gentrification gaps. Inclusive community engagement planning ensures full access and participation in economic prosperity. Only intentional actions will ensure that under-economized communities of color like Oak Park, Meadowview, Valley Hi and Del Paso Heights benefit equally from the jobs, business opportunities, education, and technology that Aggie Square will bring.”   

Greater Sacramento Economic Council CEO and President Barry Broome — “Brookings Institute data overwhelmingly demonstrates the need for greater inclusion in our economy. This can only be accomplished by driving high valued investments like Aggie Square. We applaud UC Davis for taking on this critical task and emerging as one of our region’s key anchor institutions.”

About Wexford Science & Technology

Wexford Science & Technology, LLC, is a real estate company exclusively focused on partnering with universities, academic medical centers and research companies to develop vibrant, mixed-use communities. Wexford’s communities are built on a foundation of discovery, innovation and entrepreneurial activity that creates visible outcomes in the form of substantial economic growth, new and diverse jobs, and community transformation. Wexford targets strategic opportunities with top-tier research universities that are directly on or contiguous to dense, urban campuses. Presently Wexford has developed 15 Knowledge Communities across the United States.

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