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BU in for $787 mil of Waco's economy

Jan. 24, 2001

Operating costs, students account for financial impact

By ANDY JACOBS

Reporter

Baylor's presence in Waco resulted in a local economic impact of $787 million last year, according to a new report from the Baylor Center for Business and Economic Research.

The report, the first of its kind at Baylor, was released last week by Tom Kelly, professor of economics at the Hankamer School of Business.

The report attributes the $787 million to increased student enrollment and the construction of several new buildings on campus during the last five years.

From 1995 to 2000, Baylor's total enrollment increased 12.4 percent, while out-of-county student enrollment increased 13.7 percent.

Jack Stewart, president and CEO of the Waco Chamber of Commerce, said Baylor is a large part of Waco's employment base and quality of life.

'Baylor is a tremendous contributor in every aspect of the economy here,' Stewart said.

When out-of-county students spend money in Waco, those dollars are then re-spent within the local economy, which affects the money exponentially. This is called the 'multiplier effect.'

Last year, out-of-county Baylor students spent an estimated $96.4 million on personal living expenses, which include housing, food, personal expenses and travel expenses. After the money multiplied in the local economy, the figure ballooned to $241 million of cash flow into Waco.

The rest of the $787 million comes from Baylor's operating budget and capital expenditures. The operating budget accounts for student tuition, endowment and other costs. Capital expenditures include plant operation costs and the construction of new buildings on campus.

Stewart said the biggest effect Baylor students have on the economy comes in recreation, which includes restaurants, movie theaters and small stores.

Despite the absence of most students during summer and Christmas breaks, Stewart said Waco's economy is still strong during those time periods.

'During the summer many college students who left Waco to go elsewhere return home and Christmas represents a strong shopping market for the economy,' Stewart said.

Abby Bradshaw, a Fort Worth junior, works in Richland Mall and stayed in Waco for part of the Christmas break.

'Normally, Baylor students are a large part of shopping at the mall, ' she said. 'But even though everyone went back home, the mall was still packed over the Holidays.'

Kelly said Baylor is the largest single employer in Waco, and said the fact that most of Baylor's cash stays in Waco keeps the economy stable.

'Waco is almost recession-proof because of Baylor,' he said.

Last year in McLennan County, gross sales totaled almost $6.5 billion. Therefore, Baylor's multiplied impact on the local economy represents 12.2 percent of that total. Stewart said Baylor and Waco will continue to work together to keep the economy strong.

'It's been a great partnership over the years,' he said.

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