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Major Impact: SAU strengthens local economy, lifts QC people

July 2013 | by Steven Lillybeck

At the heart of St. Ambrose University beats an economic powerhouse. And the beat of that heart is felt throughout the Quad Cities.

Consider the numbers: According to an independent study conducted by the Strategic Economics Group, Des Moines, Iowa, St. Ambrose accounted for $188 million in business spending and $73 million in personal income for the Quad City area in 2012. Campus construction alone created 118 jobs and $5.8 million in personal income.

Consider this impact: In 2008, in the face of a worldwide recession, St. Ambrose built the $10 million Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis in Davenport, providing jobs and incomes for dozens of workers and families who might otherwise have been without.

Not only is St. Ambrose a major economic force, the university adds more-much more-to the local community. Many St. Ambrose alumni choose to stay in the Quad City area, supplying local businesses, manufacturers and health care providers a steady stream of educated, skilled and motivated young people ready and willing to go to work.

Thousands of SAU alumni work, pay taxes, raise families, buy food and contribute significantly to the well being of the Quad Cities. They are a living, breathing asset in every sense of the word.

Behind the numbers are faces; real people working real jobs and spending real money; sharing the benefits of their St. Ambrose education with the community in which they live.

Here, in their own words, is testimony to the economic vigor of St. Ambrose University and its impact on the people who live, work, play and learn in the Quad Cities.

Creates Jobs

In 2012, St. Ambrose created 1,913 Quad City area jobs.

Mike Poster, St. Ambrose Vice President for Finance
"The figure that really stood out to me is the 1,900-plus jobs generated by the university. The fact that another 1,300 jobs were created beyond our 600 employees is a very significant number when it comes to economic activity. The money generated from those jobs continues to ripple through the economy.

"The other thing I believe deserves attention is what the university did during the recession. We did not lay anyone off; we powered right through the recession. We continued to build."

Builds Opportunity
$90 million was spent on construction in the past decade.

Steve Tobin, Jobsite Superintendent, Estes Construction
"The health sciences building was a very important job for us as the recession hit, and it was important for the community. It kept us, and a lot of sub-contractors, busy during a very slow time. It was easily one of biggest projects during a time when there were not a whole lot of projects around-big or small.

"Beyond that, the health sciences building gives the community something special. It meets the needs of the community for nurses, physical therapists and other health-care professionals.

"St. Ambrose is a very important customer for Estes, and they are a pleasure to work with. We've done a lot of projects for them over the years and they make us feel like we are part of the family."

Attracts Visitors
Nearly 82,000 visitors per year attend St. Ambrose events.

Dan Huber, President/Co-Owner, Frontier Hospitality Group
"The amount of business we do with and because of St. Ambrose is significant. We started partnering with St. Ambrose a little more than a year ago when the Best Western Plus SteepleGate Inn in Davenport was named their preferred hotel provider. It has been an incredibly positive business relationship. We are fortunate to host their guests when they are visiting the university.

"We take our relationship with St. Ambrose very seriously. It's more than just transacting business. We feel that it's imperative that we are invested in the St. Ambrose mission and reflect the core values of St. Ambrose in terms of how we take care of their guests."St. Ambrose is one of the more vital and important institutions in our community. We will do everything we can to support their growth and overall success. We live here, we have a business here, and our employees reside here. We know what St. Ambrose means to Davenport and the Quad City community as a whole."

Employs Quad Citians
St. Ambrose's $63 million in payroll, benefits and expenses, generated another $53 million of indirect economic activity in 2012.

John Byrne, PhD, St. Ambrose Professor of Marketing
"I've always felt that St. Ambrose is an important part of the community, but when I saw the numbers from the study I was blown away. I was thrilled. It confirmed the thoughts I had long held about the impact of the university on the community.

"And the impact is more than just dollars. Look around the Quad City community and you will find people everywhere who are St. Ambrose grads, occupying positions of leadership."

Creates Tax Revenue
SAU operations resulted in $356,000 in 2012 sales taxes and $2.8 million in property taxes.

Randi Rockwell, St. Ambrose Coordinator of Young Alumni and Philanthropy
"I knew from a young age that I wanted to attend college at St. Ambrose, but I never anticipated everything I would get from coming here. This is a special place and it's something you carry with you your entire life.

"My husband and I recently purchased a new home, and, fortunately, we have a financial cushion. We don't have to live paycheck to paycheck. We can provide for our daughter, and we just bought a new swing set for her.

"St. Ambrose is more than just a degree. St. Ambrose taught me to think in a different way and because of that, I can contribute to my job in a completely new way."

Supports Business
Students annually spend $31 million beyond campus borders.

Dan Bush, Owner of two Jimmy John's franchises, one a block from campus
"St. Ambrose is a very important to us. When their students go on break, we see a sales drop of 10-15 percent, and we definitely plan our scheduling around that. They are absolutely a big part of our business. At the beginning of the semester, on move-in day, and at the end of the semester, on move-out day, we see a big boost in business.

"But not only are they great as customers, they also provide us with an important part of our employee base. St. Ambrose students make great employees. We are very happy with St. Ambrose students who work for us. They are easily some of our best employees."

Supports Local Economy
Each student spends an average of $5,800 yearly outside the university.

Luke Staudt, Junior Management and Marketing major
"As a student, I don't have a lot of disposable income, but on the weekend my friends and I like to branch out, get off campus and visit local restaurants. We also like to attend local sporting events, like the Mallards and River Bandits. I don't track my spending as well as I should, but typically I spend between $10 to $15 when I go out.

"In addition to my studies, I also work in the Admissions Office as a campus tour guide and as a tutor in the Student Success Center.

"I knew the moment I stepped on the St. Ambrose campus that this was the place where I wanted to go to school. St. Ambrose is an amazing place. I knew instantly I would be able to learn and grow and be cared for during my four years in school."

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