ARCHIVED  October 1, 1996

Colleges’ fall start brings cash infusion into respective cities

Fall semesters are well under way at Colorado State University, the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Wyoming, and that means an infusion of big bucks into the economies of Fort Collins, Greeley and Laramie.Not only do colleges enrich the quality of life in their communities by providing diversity, intellectual stimulation, social and entertainment functions, the colleges and their students and faculty spend millions of dollars each year, making them key players in each community’s economy.
The magnitude of the impact is suggested by recent studies at CSU and UNC, while in Laramie, about half the community’s 26,000 population is directly connected to UW as student, faculty or staff.
“Because of the university, we have roughly 5,000 employees and 22,000 students living in town, buying services, clothing and food,´ said Judson Harper, CSU’s vice president for research and information technology. “That type of population in a community has a tremendous impact.”
CSU’s impact exceeds a half billion dollars a year, according to a 1994 study by CSU Publications and Creative Services, based on 1992 budgets. The impact would be at least a third greater today.The study “CSU: Economic Connections to Fort Collins, Larimer County and the State of Colorado,” estimated total CSU spending in Colorado of $530 million in 1992, using a conservative multiplier of 1.53. It also concluded that CSU employees, students and visitors directly spent $345 million in Colorado in fiscal 1992, more than four times the amount of direct state appropriations then.
CSU students spent more than $140 million in Fort Collins and Larimer County in 1992, including $35 million in rent, and visitors spent at least $39 million, the CSU study indicated.
CSU spent $93 million on purchases outside the university in fiscal 1992, including $52 million spent with Colorado businesses and $27.5 million with Larimer County businesses, the study said.
Similar studies were conducted at UNC by Ann J. Garrison of the UNC Economics Department and Laura Motley, a UNC student. And if the numbers were smaller, they were no less significant for Greeley and Weld County.
Garrison’s April 1995 study was based on surveys of UNC faculty and staff and their personal spending during the first half of 1994. She determined they spend on average $1,055 a year on property taxes and $5,501 on major purchases, $350 a year on clothes, $262 a year on furniture and $232 annual on appliances.
Faculty and staff spend an average of $294 a month on groceries and another $136 a month in restaurants or take-out food, she found. They spend an average of $62 a month on recreation and recreational equipment, $54 monthly on movies and entertainment, $173 a month on child care and $386 a month on car payments, expenses and gas.
UNC students also are important contributors to the Greeley/Weld County economy, spending more than $300 a semester on books and supplies, and an average of $170 a month on food and nearly $60 a month on clothes, according to Motley’s study.Multiply those figures by 10,000 students and you begin to see impact: e.g. more than $6 million a school year for books and supplies and some $17 million in food over 10 months.
“The University of Northern Colorado is a vital entity of the surrounding economies,” Motley concluded. “The students provide revenue for both the city and the county, along with a strong and growing work force for businesses.”
And while economic impact hasn’t been studied as extensively in Laramie, there is no doubt about the importance of the University of Wyoming to the community.
Jay Fromkin, UW’s director of University Relations, noted that the university is the largest single employer in Laramie, with an annual payroll in excess of $90 million. The university spends $32 million a year in purchases in Albany County, according to Linda Nydahl, manager of the accounting office.
“I think it would be fair to say that we have a very, very significant impact on the economic, cultural, social and educational life in this community and indeed the entire state,” Fromkin said.
Universities like CSU, UNC and UW also are important catalysts in economic development, often spinning off private ventures from research and providing the kinds of well-educated employees that today’s firms require.But while both direct and indirect economic impact is significant, there is general agreement that the intangible impacts may be the most significant and lasting. As the CSU study concluded: “These communities are linked in a mutually beneficial relationship, and the end result far exceeds what each could accomplish on its own.”
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Fall semesters are well under way at Colorado State University, the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Wyoming, and that means an infusion of big bucks into the economies of Fort Collins, Greeley and Laramie.Not only do colleges enrich the quality of life in their communities by providing diversity, intellectual stimulation, social and entertainment functions, the colleges and their students and faculty spend millions of dollars each year, making them key players in each community’s economy.
The magnitude of the impact is suggested by recent studies at CSU and UNC, while in Laramie, about half the community’s 26,000…

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