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Posted on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

Workforce at University of Michigan's North Campus Research Complex hits 1,700

By Kellie Woodhouse


There are now 1,700 people working at the North Campus Research Complex.

Joseph Tobianski I

There are now roughly 1,700 people working at the North Campus Research Complex, a 27-building, 174-acre swath in northeast Ann Arbor the University of Michigan purchased 3 ½ years ago.

That's an increase from the 1,423 workers U-M reported at the complex in July and the 1,120 workers U-M reported in February.

U-M purchased the 2.2 million square-foot complex from Pfizer in 2009 for $108 million. David Canter, executive director of the complex, told this summer that it would be another four or five years until the complex reaches capacity, which is between 3,000 and 3,500 employees.

Of the 1,700 people working at NCRC, nearly 300 occupy new positions created since the school began populating the site in March 2010.

"The campus is vibrant," Ora H. Pescovitz, CEO of the U-M Health System, said on Thursday.

Also on Thursday U-M's governing board approved a $17.5 million renovation of a NCRC building. Roughly 68,000 gross square feet of the 1960s-era 'Building 20' will be upgraded for use by the medical school.

U-M CFO Timothy Slottow said the retrofit was "totally anticipated" when U-M purchased the complex in 2009. The project follows a $13.7 million renovation of a 120,000 gross-square-foot NCRC building for health services research.

U-M plans to have invested $300 million in NCRC facilities —including the initial purchase price— by 2015.

Here's a look at NCRC growth:

Screen Shot 2012-11-16 at 10.15.24 AM.png

University of Michigan chart

Here's a percentage breakdown of who was working at the site in June (The largest unit was the Medical School at 71.3 percent):

Screen Shot 2012-11-16 at 10.21.15 AM.png

University of Michigan chart

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Sofia Toti

Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 3:32 a.m.

Ive always wondered, when reading the complaints about lost property tax revenue, what the complainers envision for our fair city if the U wasn't here.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 8:33 p.m.

"Of the 1,700 people working at NCRC, nearly 300 occupy new positions created since the school began populating the site in March 2010." While this is certainly good news, it would be useful to keep in mind that there are just 300 net new positions, meaning that 1400 folks were moved from elsewhere within the university, so the gains here may be less than meets the eye - and there will be some empty space to fill somewhere else in the city.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

Amid the usual whining about U-M's tax-exempt status as a "taxpayer-supported" institution, it's worth remembering some facts ignored by the complainers: (1) This year U-M is getting $273 Million from the State of Michigan, less than 5% of its total budget of near $6 Billion. (That's the total budget, not the "general budget", which is one of four budgets used to account for total receipts/expenditures.) That $273 million is down by more than 50% over the last half-dozen years. (2) A large share of that nearly $6 Billion is spent locally, in faculty and staff salaries, construction projects, purchases of supplies of all sorts, etc. etc. (Not to mention the huge benefits to Ann Arbor that flow from student expenditures, 6-7 home football games, UMS and other public performances, etc. So it's . . . uhhh . . . not very thoughtful just to complain about U-M not also paying property taxes on its buildings. Someone said that the NCRC employee increase "does nothing for the city of Ann Arbor tax wise". That term "tax wise" is pretty sneaky, as it completely overlooks all the other U-M contributions. Isn't that about the same deceptive logic-chopping as underlies the Romney disdain for the 47% who pay no income tax, which overlooks the substantial contributions "the 47%" make via payroll taxes, sales taxes, and the like.

Ron Granger

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

Since we cannot collect propery and B&O taxes on those sheltered business ventures, how about a carefully targeted income tax? Like 0.25% and it would only apply to those who work on tax exempt properties greater than a certain size.


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

I'm glad to see the UofM side of the facility getting busier. Isn't there a growing component of corporate staffing in the extended complex? Either way, public (non-property taxed) or private (taxed) it's great that the facility isn't an empty eyesore that some of our neighboring metro areas leave empty for decades. The employees are all buying local goods/services while paying property, sales and income taxes back into the community.

Lou Belcher

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

I took a great deal of heat for extenting a tax abatment for Parke Davis of $60M in 1979 for one reason and that was to attract JOBS from the corporate research center that they promised to create here.Fast forward through Parke Davis through Warner Lambert through Pfizer and now after Pfizer moved out we were left with an empty campus and 3,000 jobs gone. Over our history, A2 has lost every top private employer at their prime; Argus, Bendix, Sycor, pfizer etc. We have always replaced those jobs but have added more for one reason.... The University of Michigan. The "U" draws research funds from governments,corporations, and other entities. It's 40K+ student body and thousands of staff member spend millons in the area and this increases the value of private property and hence property taxes...ask the Pymouth road businesses if they want 3000 Pfizer employees that may be gone tomorrow or 3,000 "U" staff members who will be here forever...In my opinon it is not the property taxes lost....that's's the revenue generated from jobs and the related increase in private property values created by this revenue flow. The North Campus Research Center will created far, far more wealth for our fair city and area than Pfizer could in a hundred years. I only wish our federal government would learn....It's Jobs....not taxes that is important to all of our well being....please do not diss our "Golding Goose"....GO BLUE


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

You were the mayor of A2 correct? My sister was best friends with your daughter Debbie circa 1979!


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Again, the comments on this board aren't based on facts and seem to be based on generalizations of what people think they know about the University. Perhaps Kellie can remind readers of previous articles posted that discuss the make up of the site, the economic development occuring along Plymouth that is directly related to the people being employeed at the NCRC. People need to remember that there are 35000 employees that work at UM, with comparatively above average salaries versus the state, that support higher property values (have you looked at home values in other cities in the state), generating generous property taxes, let alone the economy that has developed to support these people. This doesn't factor in the ~12,000 out of state students that come here, spend there money, rent, etc. (that would not otherwise be in the state). So I do think people need to understand to both sides of the ledger as it relates to the university. Do you really think Ann Arbor would be Ann Arbor with out it? Kellie, since there seems to be a persistent miss understanding of the true economics of the a resaerch institution like Michigan and how it inter-relates with the local economy maybe this would be a good article. It could focus on the "costs" to the city (e.g. reduced tax base), any additional services Ann Arbor has to directly support the University and also the benefits to the community (quality jobs, economic development, reputation, etc.).


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

The two negative comments I see state a fact and do not generalize. What you say is true though. It's trickle down economics 101, but can also be applied to a million businesses who actually pay taxes. Just sayin...

Kara Gavin

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

If you'd like to learn more about the growth and activity at NCRC, please check out the newly issued Annual Report at , and the press release on the Regents' action yesterday at . For those wondering who those 1,700 people working at NCRC are, they are overwhelmingly U-M faculty, staff and graduate students -- as well as dozens of employees of more than 20 companies and non-U-M entities such as the Ann Arbor VA. There are some great charts at showing the growth in number of people working at the site, the distribution of space they work in, and the breakdown of who they work for within U-M.

Kellie Woodhouse

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

Thanks for the additional information Kara!


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

Do they make anything for profit here or is this simply a research expense? And who pays that bill?


Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 9:20 a.m.

...and yet, while great for UM, does nothing for the city of Ann Arbor tax wise...and since much of that 1700 workforce is student labor, doesn't really contribute much to the local economy in any way at all...

An Arborigine

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 4:10 a.m.

Gosh, if only the owner was a tax-payer