Adams State's economic impact on SLV estimated at $78 million

(12-23-2015)

The economic impact of Adams State University on the San Luis Valley exceeds $78 million, according to a study presented to the university's Board of Trustees, Dec. 18. Based on data from the 2014-15 academic year, the report concluded the university's total economic impact on the SLV was $78,078,185. Statewide, that impact was $111,820,411. The report was conducted by Dr. Liz Thomas Hensley, asst. professor of marketing, and senior marketing student Jake Heaton.

"We wanted to illustrate the economic importance of Adams State University to the Valley. This study reflects the economic devastation that could result if the University were no longer here," said Adams State President Beverlee J. McClure.

Senior marketing student Jake Heaton (left) and Dr. Liz Thomas Hensley present their economic impact report to the university's Board of Trustees.

The largest spending component was for student living and personal expenses. In addition, the report found that one additional job in the valley is created for every two positions at the university. One of the valley's largest employers, Adams State employs 808 faculty and staff.

The new report drew upon the 2005 Economic Impact Analysis and Report conducted by John S. Stump of the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group (DRG). Hew Hallock, current director of research at DRG, consulted on the new report. Over the last decade, Adams State's economic impact on the valley increased more than $8 million. As in 2005, the new report notes the university's economic impact "represents a major economic force equal to all of the region's current level of tourism activity."

The new report uses two multipliers to calculate the impact of various types of spending, according to best practices. A multiplier of 1.9 was applied to direct purchases and expenditures made by the university; all other spending categories were multiplied by 1.7. The report states: "Multipliers provide a simple measure of the domino effect that occurs when money turnover takes place in a local economy."

Using those multipliers, Adams State's total economic impact of $78,078,185 includes the following:

  • $37,946,662 - Student living and personal expenses
  • $21,933,112 - Employee payroll and direct spending
  • $11,298,840 - Operations expenditure spending
  • $4,570,008 - Adams State-sponsored events and visitor spending
  • $2,329,563 - Adams State employee impact on SLV health care

Those figures do not include last year's $13 million Richardson Hall renovation project, of which roughly 35 percent, or $4.5 million, was spent on local contractors and subcontractors. Hensley noted the impact of campus visitor and events was a conservative estimate: "It doesn't include all possible events." Visiting intercollegiate athletic teams and fans contribute nearly a half million dollars alone.

The report also notes many positive, non-quantifiable impacts of the university, such as employee and student participation in the community, schools, churches, etc.

By Julie Waechter