DEL NORTE— The Upper Rio Grande Economic Development group held their monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 9. Board members welcomed Liz Hensley the Adams State University (ASU) Business Department director who presented the 2017 economic development study that was conducted by her and three ASU students.
In her presentation, Hensley pointed out key economic impacts the college brings to the Valley through both Trinidad State Junior College (TSJC) and ASU from both students and employees. “We looked at this study in a new way. We didn’t want to just focus on the financial impacts, which is a huge part of this study but we also looked at the quality of life, the things you can’t put a dollar value on that leads to helping the San Luis Valley as well,” said Hensley.
“We have a lot of faculty members that can provide their expertise to Valley businesses and local community members. We have the arts, non-profits and sciences that benefit from our faculty. Both institutions incorporate successful programs that provide a consistent flow of individuals who are ready for the workforce here in the Valley, and we are continuing to focus on adding more programs as they are needed.”
“We also provide functioning facilities to local organizations and community members, host events and athletic events which help bring people to the area who spend money locally. One of our largest events is the Volunteer Income Tax Association; it helped 2,727 residents to bring in 4.5 million tax dollars back to the Valley in the form of tax returns. It is a huge impact, and we help a lot of people when we host it.”
Other programs offered through the college include the Criminal Law Enforcement Training Academy that graduated 240 officers, deputies and wardens in the last 20 years of the program. “We also calculated that 72.8 percent of the teachers here in the Valley have a degree from Adams State. Those teachers and administrators graduated from our facility and stayed in the Valley. We are continuing efforts to help increase that percentage,” continued Hensley.
“Through this study we found that 40 percent of the nursing graduates from Trinidad State have stayed in the Valley and continue to practice medicine here and we have an amazing music department that reaches an average of 4,000 people in the Valley through performances each year.”
Hensley continued her presentation stating that a total of $102,179,917 comes to the Valley through both institutions throughout the year, which is a huge fiscal impact. “We are working to increase our online presence, which was not included in this survey due to the fact that most of those students are not actually here. They impact the economy by paying tuition, but not through direct spending.”
“One of the programs that is continuing to grow is the incarcerated students that are participating in our online program. We will have five students graduating from the program with degrees in the next few weeks in local prisons; we had one get released and was able to attend his graduation who is also continuing on to law school. It is a great program that allows incarcerated individuals to get a degree, which in turn prepares them for the workforce and has been proven to help keep them from returning to prison. The program is paid for in advance by sponsoring families, organizations, or the inmate pays for tuition up front. We hope to see it grow in the future.”
Hensley finished her presentation by stating that another study will be conducted before the end of the year with the help of students in her MBA program. “I couldn’t have done this alone or without the help of my students. It is a great learning tool for those who are pursuing marketing degrees.”