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Study outlines FHSU's impact

Special to The Hays Daily News

A recent study shows Fort Hays State University plays a vital role in the economy of the local community, and the importance of that role has increased during the continuing weak economy.

"We commission a study every two years to track FHSU's economic impact on Ellis County," said FHSU President Edward H. Hammond. "The recently completed study for fiscal year 2011 shows an impact of $161,785,995 under the IMPLAN methodology and a higher impact of $209,695,045 under the Caffrey-Isaacs methodology."

The report covers the most recent fiscal year for which full information was available. Fiscal year 2011 began July 1, 2010, and ended June 30, 2011. Previously, only the Caffrey-Isaacs method was used, but the IMPLAN method was added in the most recent study.

"The new methodology relies less on certain assumptions and provides greater robustness to our findings," said Samuel Schreyer, a co-author of the study and an assistant economics professor.

The other co-authors -- Tom Johansen and Kathleen Arano -- are former members of the FHSU faculty. The study said a conservative approach was used.

"Given our attempt to err on the side of caution, the actual economic impact that FHSU has on the local economy could very well be larger than our calculations," Schreyer said.

Hammond said FHSU serves as a vital economic engine for Hays, Ellis County and the region, and he said ongoing construction projects -- with a price tag of more than $30 million and including an indoor athletic training facility and a new academic building -- would increase the impact.

"In addition to the indispensible role of FHSU in the local economy," he said, "the university's impact includes such non-quantifiable benefits as a better-educated work force, leadership by university employees on committees and boards in the community, and a better quality of life for area residents thanks to sporting events, cultural activities and extracurricular education programs."

Schreyer agreed.

"Perhaps the most important economic impact, though, is the large number of job-ready graduates produced by FHSU each year who make lifelong contributions to Kansas in the workplace and through community service," he said.

The economic impact is calculated from direct expenditures and "multipliers" that measure additional financial activity as the dollars circulate in the local economy. The direct impact is the sum of all local expenditures associated with the university. The indirect impact is the additional business spending that results from supporting those initial expenditures. Finally, the induced impact is the additional expenditures that result from incomes created by the direct impact. Added together, the direct impact, the indirect impact and the induced impact produce the total economic impact of FHSU on Ellis County.

Some of the specific impacts are difficult to measure, and the authors of the study, as mentioned previously, were intentionally conservative in deciding Under the Caffrey-Isaacs method, the direct impact of FHSU in FY2011 was $116,497,247. The indirect impact was $23,299,449. The induced impact was$69, 898,348. The total impact was $209,695,045.

The entire report is available online at www.fhsu.edu/efa/publications/Economic-Impact-FY-2011 or by calling (785) 628-5683.