AFA brings nearly $1 billion to local economy

Jobs, salaries, construction and supplies at the United States Air Force Academy bring nearly $1 billion to the local economy, according to the latest study from the Academy.

That’s up from $880 million in 2010, said Lt. Col. Burke Beaumont, director of financial management and comptroller for the academy. Some of that increase is due to changes in the way the Academy listed active duty wages, he said.

“We’ve only included base pay in the past,” he said. “But this year, we added basic housing allowance and basic allowance for sustenance in the figures. We thought it made more sense: if we’re giving someone $2,000 to rent a house, and they aren’t spending all of it, that money is going to the local economy.”

The study does not include the tourist dollars brought in by Parents’ Weekend in the fall or by graduation in the spring. Nor does it include the number of people who travel to the Springs for Academy football games or other events. However, the Academy does have those numbers and believes the estimated economic impact of the 35,000 visitors during graduation week equal $26.2 million. That doesn’t include an estimated total sales tax of $1.9 million going to Colorado Springs, El Paso County, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority or the state of Colorado. Parents’ weekend brings in 10,000 visitors and brings in an estimated economic impact of $9 million, with an estimated sales tax revenue of $660,000, according to the Academy figures.

But it does include the Academy’s workforce of 12,797 people – 3,360 of which are civilians. The civilian employees include wage grade employees, civil service workers and non-appropriated fund employees who generally work at the Base Exchange, the commissary or in one of two banks located inside the Air Force Academy.

Annual payroll for all those workers is about $416.7 million, according to the study. Expenditures for construction equaled $168.5 million, while service contracts equaled $165.2 million. Materials, equipment and supplies purchased for the Air Force Academy were around $88 million.

For every military and civilian job at the based, there are indirect jobs created – the Academy says that it created 3,368 indirect jobs with an average salary of $47,510 for each position. The annual dollar value of those jobs created was about $160 million, Beaumont said.

“We’re very proud of these numbers,” he said. “And while it’s good to be able to quantify the numbers – the financial impact – there’s no way to quantify the support we get to the community. We’re proud to be in the Springs, and we’re proud to be a contributor to its economy.”

To read the entire study, click here.