Economic impact of CC exceeds $100 million

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Colorado College students and faculty shell out a lot of cash for pizza. They also spend a great deal on other goods and services. According to a study conducted by two CC economists, the school contributes about $110 million to the local economy each year in expenditures by students, staff, visitors, retirees and conference guests.

“Colorado College expenditures are a large cash injection into the economy,” said Ray McKenzie-Young, class of 2004 and paraprofessional for the economics department.

McKenzie-Young and professor Peter M. Taylor, Ph.D., presented the summary report of their economic impact study to the college’s Business and Community Alliance and community members on October 14. For his senior thesis, McKenzie-Young collaborated with Taylor to research inter-industry input-output models of El Paso County. Input-output models are used to explain and describe the flow of goods and services between sectors.

“With places like CC, there really is no substitute,” McKenzie-Young said. Colorado College is a private liberal arts college comprised of about 1,950 full-time students. “Though we’re not huge, we’re a stabilizing force,” Taylor said. “Our business is pretty constant.”

On average, only 25 percent of the student body is from Colorado. International students make up 1.5 percent of the class of 2008. “We are, in a sense, exporting services,” Taylor said. Out of state students pay tuition, room and board and other fees to the college. Students traveling to Colorado Springs to attend CC invariably spend money at local grocery stores, restaurants and bookstores. Their parents and CC alumni fly into Colorado Springs for events such as homecoming and commencement.

Going beyond the direct impact of local purchases, though, the study found that 1,090 jobs are created because of CC expenditures. “If you keep following the trail, you’ll see a new employee at the Safeway and that employee may need to go to the doctor,” Taylor said. The college employs 680 faculty and staff members, which places the institution among the top 30 private employers in Colorado Springs. According to the study, the college adds $73 million per year to Colorado Springs incomes. Of that total, $49 million is added to local business-community income, the result of college community purchases. The remaining $24 million is derived from faculty and staff income.

Construction and renovation projects on the campus result in about $8 million in spending each year. The Tutt Science Center was completed in 2004 and the Western Ridge student apartments were completed in 2001. The college plans to break ground in 2006 for the Cornerstone Arts Center on the corner of Cache La Poudre and Cascade. Cutler Hall, the first permanent building on the campus, has been undergoing an extensive facelift to restore the structure to its original state.

“CC spends money, and that goes to a lot of businesses,” Taylor said. And many of those businesses include contractors and construction companies such as GE Johnson, Gerald H. Phipps, Whitney Electric and Bestway Disposal. In addition to construction efforts, the college landscapes and installs lighting on the property continuously.

Taylor and McKenzie-Young used economic impact modeling software from the Minnesota IMPLAN Group for the study. Students and college community members were surveyed to determine how their money is being spent locally.

“I went in knowing nothing about input-output analysis,” McKenzie-Young said. He finished two chapters of his original senior thesis, which examined salinity control measures in Colorado water sources before meeting with Taylor. The salinity study was scrapped and 100 pages later, McKenzie-Young completed his final senior work in collaboration with Taylor.

No stranger to economic studies, Taylor worked for former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in the Council of Economic Advisors.

And as a final note, Taylor and McKenzie-Young determined that Colorado College students consume about 5,080 pizzas every month.

- Stephanie.Cline@csbj.com