University of Northern Colorado president Andy Feinstein, Aims Community College president Leah Bornstein, Front Range Community College president Andy Dorsey and Colorado State University president Joyce McConnell present the findings of a new report on the economic impact of their institutions. The event occurred at the Rio Grande restaurant in Fort Collins. Lucas High/BizWest.

NoCo’s public colleges, universities generate nearly $4B economic impact

FORT COLLINS — Public colleges and universities in Northern Colorado — the University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University, Front Range Community College and Aims Community College — combined to generate $3.9 billion in economic impacts and supported more than 50,000 jobs in Weld and Larimer counties during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, according to a new study.

That study, conducted on behalf of the four local public institutions (referred to in the study by the collective acronym NoCoPCU) by economic analysis firm Economic Modeling LLC, or Emsi, was released Tuesday at an event in Fort Collins that brought together UNC president Andy Feinstein, CSU president Joyce McConnell, Aims president Leah Bornstein and FRCC president Andy Dorsey for a panel discussion on how higher education serves as a key economic engine in Northern Colorado. 

“This is definitely data to celebrate,” Bornstein said. “… These data points demonstrate the inherent value of our post-secondary credentials to the region, the significant contributions to the economic vitality of the communities we all serve and the need for the continued support of higher education.” 

Highlights from the report include:

  • Research spending at the four schools generated $299 million for the region in 2017-2018.
  • Construction spending totaled $126 million. 
  • Startup and spinoff companies generated $227.9 million.
  • Contributions from alumni currently employed in the regional workforce amounted to $2 billion.
  • Payroll, expenses and employee spending accounted for $1.1 billion.

“What if NoCoPCU didn’t exist? All of this economic impact would be missing,” Emsi economist Maria Corrillo said. “…Not only do the alumni benefit from this impact, but the whole region does too.”

The university and college presidents used the report to highlight the relative lack of public funding provided to Colorado schools as compared with other states. 

“Colorado is 47th in the country for its investment in higher education,” and that needs to change, McConnell said. “We are not just independent universities and colleges; we are truly an ecosystem that is helping Weld and Larimer counties thrive.”

Despite this lagging investment, “it is really a fantastic time to be in higher education — contrary to some of the national rhetoric,” Bornstein said.

Emsi economist Susan Hackett declared local higher-education institutions a “major investment for society as a whole.”

Esmi calculated the annual rate of return for taxpayers in Larimer and Weld counties who support the schools at 14.1 percent. State and local funding provides $307.2 million in funding annually, and the schools provide $1.2 billion in future tax revenues and government savings. 

The study “affirms what so many of us know about the value of higher education,” Feinstein said. The return on investment is so significant.”

Bornstein agreed and said the study makes a “strong and impactful”statement about the local, regional and statewide importance of public colleges and universities. 

That impact and return on investment is likely to grow as automation plays a larger and larger role in the workforce, Dorsey said.

“Jobs demand people who have skills,” he said, and those skills are honed at higher-education institutions. 

The college and university presidents said they would use the data presented for decision-making, marketing their schools and to demonstrate to staff and faculty the value of their work. 

“We’re really excited with these results,” McConnell said. “We knew intuitively that we would get these kinds of results, but now that we have the numbers, it can really help guide us.”

 

FORT COLLINS — Public colleges and universities in Northern Colorado — the University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University, Front Range Community College and Aims Community College — combined to generate $3.9 billion in economic impacts and supported more than 50,000 jobs in Weld and Larimer counties during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, according to a new study.

That study, conducted on behalf of the four local public institutions (referred to in the study by the collective acronym NoCoPCU) by economic analysis firm Economic Modeling LLC, or Emsi, was released Tuesday at an event in Fort Collins that brought together UNC president Andy Feinstein, CSU president Joyce McConnell, Aims president Leah Bornstein and FRCC president Andy Dorsey for a panel discussion on how higher education serves as a key economic engine in Northern Colorado. 

“This is definitely data to celebrate,” Bornstein said. “… These data points demonstrate the inherent value of our post-secondary credentials to the region, the significant contributions to the economic vitality of the communities we all serve and the need for the continued support of higher education.” 

Highlights from the report include:

  • Research spending at the four schools generated $299 million for the region in 2017-2018.
  • Construction spending totaled $126 million. 
  • Startup and spinoff companies generated $227.9 million.
  • Contributions from alumni currently employed in the regional workforce amounted to $2 billion.
  • Payroll, expenses and employee spending accounted for $1.1 billion.

“What if NoCoPCU didn’t exist? All of this economic impact would be…