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Gown helping town: Arkansas State University's importance to Jonesboro illustrated by economic impact study.

How important is Arkansas State University to the economy of Jonesboro?

A recent economic impact study conducted by ASU faculty members and commissioned by the school and the Greater Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce answers that question.

The study was conducted by Dan Hoyt, a professor of management, and Russell Jones, an assistant professor of computer information systems at Arkansas State.

The school's impact on the Jonesboro economy is estimated to be $267 million per year. That determination followed an extensive survey of ASU students, faculty, staff members and Jonesboro residents.

According to Hoyt, total ASU-related expenditures were $127 million during the 1991-92 school year. Hoyt and Jones then used an economic multiplier of 2.1, based on the principle that dollars spent by the study's components will be spent again 2.1 times before leaving the Jonesboro economy.

This was the second such study done by Hoyt. The first study was performed in 1984-85. It showed total expenditures of $81 million. That figure did not include expenditures related to ASU's Convocation Center, which didn't open until 1987.

Hoyt and Jones broke down expenditures into six categories -- local expenditures, student expenditures, purchases by those attending summer camps and other activities at ASU, Convocation Center events, ASU football games and conferences and seminars.

Local expenditures of $50.9 million included ASU's payroll and the purchases of goods and services. The figure also included some construction costs.

Student expenditures totaled $72.5 million. That figure included what was spent by students and visiting relatives. About 10 percent of retail sales in Jonesboro can be attributed to students, according to Hoyt.

An Economic Engine

"We started off our report by saying that ASU is an economic engine driving Jonesboro," he says. "... Universities are essentially recession proof. As ASU grows, it will continue to have a positive impact on the Jonesboro economy."

Those attending summer events spent an estimated $185,000 in Jonesboro.

Convocation Center events accounted for $1.85 million in expenditures. That excludes admission fees and concession costs.

Arkansas State home football games yielded $1.5 million in expenditures in 1991. A survey of 300 ASU season-ticket holders showed the average fan spends $27.73 outside Indian Stadium. Purchases were broken down this way: $7.38 for dining, $6.75 for local shopping, $6.75 for lodging and $6.85 for fuel. The calculations were based on an average home attendance figure of 9,000.

Hoyt points out that with 1,300 full-time employees, the university is Jonesboro's largest employer. That investment, he says, is returned through the community's support of university events such as sports and theatre productions and the sponsorship of scholarships by area business leaders.

"As the community becomes more aware of the college's impact, you see more support," Hoyt says. "It is in the back of everybody's mind that ASU is in Jonesboro. But it's healthy for them periodically to see the numbers, to see the impact."
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Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jun 22, 1992
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