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Colorado College releases economic impact study, numbers down from last report

April 18, 2018 Updated: April 19, 2018 at 1:35 pm
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Students study outside the third-floor cafe in the renovated Tutt Library at Colorado College on the first day of classes Monday, Aug. 29, 2017. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Colorado College delivered an average annual impact of $166 million on the Colorado Springs economy from 2011 to 2016, a five-year boost of more than $831 million, a new study shows.

That's down from the last report released in 2013, when the school pumped an average of nearly $168 million into the local economy annually from 2006 to 2011, for a five-year total topping $839 million.

CC President Jill Tiefenthaler said the figures measure only quantifiable results; the liberal arts school's community contributions also include volunteerism, academic research and "brain gain" to the region.

Tiefenthaler also mentioned in a news release the college's recent acquisition of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, its sporting events, public performances and presentations, an annual environmental symposium called the State of the Rockies Project, and involvement with a citywide initiative to retain college graduates in the region as evidence of the campus' widespread community involvement.

"As Colorado Springs experiences extraordinary growth, our shared potential is immense," said Tiefenthaler, who holds a Ph.D. in economics. "The relationship between CC and Colorado Springs is dynamic and reciprocal."

The $831 million cited in the study includes $587 million in college spending on operations, $47 million worth of capital construction, $169 million of student spending in the community, $14 million in spending by athletic visitors and $11 million in spending by all other visitors.

Dirk Draper, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation, calls CC "a really valued community partner."

"They add prestige to the community as a center of intellectual excellence," he said. "Their national rankings bear that out."

CC this year is ranked as the nation's best innovative liberal arts school, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2018 Best Colleges Rankings.

The economic study found that CC created an annual average of 2,500 direct and indirect jobs and $69 million in earnings in the local economy for each year between 2011 and 2016.

Overall, for every dollar a CC student spent, another $3.19 went into the Colorado Springs economy, according to the study.

Other local colleges and universities also make significant economic contributions.

The U.S. Air Force Academy had an estimated economic impact of $981 million in 2015, according to public statements from former Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs contributed more than $593 million to the local and statewide economies in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the campus reported in an economic impact study completed by the Business Research Division of the CU Boulder Leeds School of Business.

A third-party analysis of the economic impact of the Colorado Community College System determined that Pikes Peak Community College contributed $380 million in added income to the Pikes Peak region in fiscal year 2015-2016.

"We've got quite a handful of good, strong schools," Draper said, "For a community our size to have an excellent military academy, state school, community college and liberal arts school is a quite an accomplishment and critical for our workforce development."

CC officials will distribute the report to various government officials, economic leaders and community partners across the state, said spokeswoman Leslie Weddell.

"Our relationship with the community is synergistic; a strong Colorado Springs makes a strong CC, and a strong CC gives more back to its community," she said.

In her letter in the beginning of the report, Tiefenthaler recognizes that "the wealth of opportunities and resources that we provide for both our students and the community would not be possible without your support," meaning the community.

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