ASU, TSJC dramatically affect SLV economy

ASU Associate Professor of Marketing Liz Thomas Hensley, Ph.D., center, is flanked by ASU business students Mallory Grimsrud, left, and Gabrielle Timmen as they announced the results of a study showing the $102 million annual economic impact higher education has on the San Luis Valley. The results were shared with a group of SLV leaders on Wednesday./Courier photo by Keith R. Cerny

ALAMOSA – A new economic impact study released Wednesday shows an estimated $102.2 million return to the San Luis Valley economy because the campuses of Adams State and Trinidad State Junior College are located in Alamosa. Of that figure, Adams State accounts for 82 percent or $83.5 million.

“Without a doubt, if Adams State and TSJC weren’t here, it would be a huge negative impact on the Valley,” said ASU Associate Professor of Marketing Liz Thomas Hensley, Ph.D. “The number of people alone who are employed in the community because of these campuses of higher education is significant.”

The study, released by Valley Initiatives Partners, looked at the ripple effect Adams State and TSJC had on the San Luis Valley economy in 2016-17. Valley Initiatives Partners is an ad hoc group focused on promoting the San Luis Valley.

Both institutions contribute to the work force of the San Luis Valley beyond their own employee bases, the study shows. Nurses, teachers, school administrators, and police officers trained at Adams State and Trinidad State Junior College fill key employment sectors of the Valley’s workforce.

Adams State’s agricultural business degree programs comprise another key educational area that feeds into the San Luis Valley’s job base.

Adams State and TSJC employ 1,588 individuals; the economic activity of the two campuses’ employee base creates an additional 794 jobs across the San Luis Valley, according to the study.

Adams State is focused on expanding its student internship programs to create an even stronger tie with local businesses. The university is also working to increase community service hours that students perform across the San Luis Valley and tying those hours to student-learning components of degrees.

The study showed that Adams State’s NCAA Division II athletic programs are another important driver of economic activity. Visiting athletic teams alone drop $545,000 of spending on local restaurants and hotels, and families and friends of student-athletes bring another $957,000 in economic activity on an annual basis.

Adams State as a whole, with its athletic programs, its twice-yearly graduations, its theater and music programs that bring in visitors, and spending by families and friends of students bring an estimated $4 million of economic activity to the San Luis Valley, the study shows.

Three Adams State marketing students participated in the study, and Thomas Hensley said their work will aide their own professional development. The students working on the study were Gabrielle Timmen, Mallory Grimsrud and Madison Merschel.

“It gives them real-world experience,” Thomas Hensley said. “Beyond crunching the numbers, they really got to learn about the communities that comprise the San Luis Valley and learn about how higher education works and its impact on a local region like ours.”

The full economic impact report is available at

METHODOLOGY: Multipliers provide a simple measure of the domino effect that occurs when money turnover takes place in a local economy. New money from outside the studied region is introduced into the economy and multiple spending and responding occur as part of the money patter. A multiplier that has been used by other Colorado regional universities for an economy such as the San Luis Valley is 1.7. That multiplier is comprised of the originating dollar of direct spending with the addition of $.70 added into the total “bounce” through the economy before it all gone. The amount after the 1.7 multiplier is calculated and referred to as the “total estimated impact.”

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