HARRISONBURG, Va --- In one year, the James Madison University community and visitors spent about $450-million in our community. Out of that money, more than $60-million went back into locally owned small businesses.
More students are in the area and businesses could not be happier. Students bring a lot of business to Harrisonburg and the state.
David Engle is the owner of Salad Creations in Harrisonburg and he welcomes more business from the JMU students heading back for school.
"Overall, it gets a lot busier during the school year," said Engle.
Engle said students make up 30-percent of his business.
"The students are definitely part of the economy here. From everything to faculty and staff down to students' friends and family coming to visit."
The most recent study on the economic impact of JMU and the local economy shows students, faculty and student visitors spent $448-million in 2009. That adds up to more than $2,000 a day.
Lev Feygelson is a JMU student who said the numbers are not surprising.
“There's 20,000 students and we do everything here,” said Feygelson. “We buy our groceries. We go to restaurants. We do everything here. I mean it really helps the community."
Engle said JMU's “Jac card,” a student identification card that students use to pay for meals, helps their business.
"For us is just additional income. A lot of students, that's how they spend their money and if we were not able to accept Jac cards, some of the freshmen, sophomores wouldn't be able to spend their money here," said Engle.
Harrisonburg Economic Development Director Brian Shull said students are vital to the local economy.
"Harrisonburg just wouldn't be the same without the university's impact to the area," said Shull.
More business from the students means local businesses can keep more money in the community.
"Being a locally-owned business, we focus a lot on locals. When it comes down to it, the locals are bread and butter and the students being up here, just helps it that much more."
The study also said students have an impact on the tax revenue for the city and the state.
Aside from the money, JMU representatives say they employ about 8,200 people each year.
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