Posted Online: April 24, 2013, 10:57 pm

Study quantifies Ambrose's economic impact on Q-C

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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.com

St. Ambrose University generated $188 million in community business spending, $73 million in personal income and created the equivalent of about 600 full-time jobs and 1,300 positions at other companies, according to a study released by the school on Wednesday.

The financial impact study, which covered 2012, was done by Strategic Economics Group, of Des Moines, on the impact of the university community.

"One dollar spent by St. Ambrose ripples through the local economy," Mike Poster, SAU's vice president for finance, said.

Joan Lescinski, St. Ambrose president, said the scale of many of the study's conclusions -- the amount of money generated and number of jobs created-- surprised the university.

"One of the things it helps us do is see the kind of positive impact we have on the community in a quantifiable way," she said.

The study also concluded:

-- In the last 10 years, about $89 million has been spent by SAU on capital projects, with an average annual ripple effect of $15 million in new spending for other businesses.

-- Students spending money in the area in 2012 generated about a quarter of the $188 million total business spending. Mr. Poster said the average student spends about $5,800 annually on food, transportation and other needs.

-- In the 2011-12 school year, the university community did 61,425 hours of community service.

-- St. Ambrose had about 82,000 visitors in 2012, who spent about $5.9 million directly and caused $9 million of the $188 million in business spending.

Mr. Poster said the university, because it is a not-for-profit, does not directly generate tax, but its indirect effect on area taxes was significant.

The report states about $356,000 in local option sales tax was generated in 2012 and about $2.8 million in property taxes.

The study projects that by 2017, the university annually will be creating $206 million in business spending, $75 million in personal income and just more than 2,000 jobs.

University activity is expected to generate $443,000 in local option sales tax and $3.5 million in property tax in that year, the report states.

Mr. Poster said the data will be used in conversations with possible donors, potential employees and others with whom the university does business.

He said the study conclusions were based on data from the university and entities it interacts with, which were entered into a computer model.