Study: University impact $351M last year for region
Colorado Mesa University’s presence in Grand Junction infused the regional economy with an estimated $351 million in 2011-12, according to a newly released regional economic impact study.
The study, authored by Colorado Mesa Vice President of Academic Affairs Carol Futhey, estimates the university’s impact on western Colorado based on five factors: How much the school spends on services and supplies purchased in Colorado; employee salaries; student spending on rent, transportation, entertainment and personal expenses; money visitors spend on fuel, food and university events; and capital projects.
Those direct expenditures totaled approximately $195 million last school year, according to the report, while another $156 million may have made it into the regional economy through indirect job creation influenced by the university’s spending.
This is the fifth bi-annual economic impact report generated by the school. The first study estimated the university’s economic impact on the region was closer to $144.2 million in 2003-04.
Growth in enrollment, employment and campus construction may have influenced the 143 percent jump, according to Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. Schwenke said the university helps the local economy by alerting the chamber when it needs to bid for anything from window-cleaning to carpet installation.
“Seventy-five percent of their purchases are with businesses on the Western Slope,” she said.
Schwenke said the university and Western Colorado Community College also have impacted the local economy by responding to local job demands with a construction management program, a variety of nursing programs and a mechanical engineering partnership with the University of Colorado.
Colorado Mesa President Tim Foster said the university pays attention to labor statistics and consults the chamber, Grand Junction Economic Partnership and local businesses to get a sense of what majors may lead students to jobs.
A study of industry and degree supply and demand reviewed by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education Friday showed more students in the west-central region of Colorado earned degrees in physical sciences, health professions and construction in 2010 than in 2003, while traditional subjects like math, history and social sciences experienced a decline in degree-earners.
The study found health care and professional and scientific jobs grew between 2000 and 2011 in Colorado.
The number of degrees in those two subjects are on the rise as well, though, and outpace employment growth by 1.8 percentage points for scientific jobs and 5.7 percentage points for health care jobs.