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The students are back!
Although summer vacation continues through Labor Day for most of our elementary and high school students, school starts this Monday on most of our WNY college campuses. This means we are about to be hit by a tsunami of bright young minds.
Buffalo is a college town. More than 115,000 students attend our 21 private and public colleges and universities. About 15,000 of these are new students, many coming to our community for the first time from across the nation and around the world. Welcome them!
UB estimates that its students – with more than half coming from outside the region – will spend $240 million on off-campus housing, food, transportation, entertainment and other items in the coming year. That's about $8,500 apiece. Those are real dollars in our economy.
In fact, with payrolls and services, colleges and universities plow more than $4.6 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) into the WNY economy. That’s about 10 percent of the total local economy, folks.
Yes. Buffalo really is a college town.
Our campuses also enrich Buffalo by opening up much of their intriguing programming for students to members of the community – UB football games, Canisius hockey practice at HarborCentre, World on Your Plate at Daemon, speakers, concerts, theater, movies, art exhibits, homecoming activities... The Burchfield Penney in literally on the Buff State Campus.
When I decided to move back to the U.S. from South America many years ago, I decided I wanted to live in a college town. I hemmed and hawed, casting about for just the right place. I remember narrowing it down to Gainesville, Ann Arbor, and Boulder. I landed in the Rockies, and stayed for 25 years. I had no idea all those many years ago that my hometown was, and is, a college town.
Our colleges and universities are a human capital bonanza for a city looking to grow. Let's reach out and welcome these young adults, whether they are from Cambodia, California or Clarence.
If we don't engage these students in our community before they graduate, when they are done with school they will be done with Buffalo. And what a terrible waste that would be.
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