College students in Tallahassee impact local economy

Published: Aug. 23, 2017 at 7:15 PM EDT
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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News

August 23, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- (WCTV) -- They're back.

"Really exciting. I've been so anxious to just get here already," said, Cassandra Vincent, an incoming freshman at FSU.

Local business owners are anxious, too, because of the anticipated business boom from college students.

"We love it when the students come back," said, Scott Fernbach, the owner of Gumby's Pizza on Tennessee Street.

Fernback says most small local businesses depend on students. He said, "When the students aren't here, businesses drop significantly. We live off of when the students are here. Hopefully that pays for the dry time when the students aren't here."

According to the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, in 2016, the Tallahassee metro area average job totals for months when the colleges and universities are in full enrollment was 1.5% higher than the average totals for months where the schools were out or with reduced enrollment.

Administrators at FSU say students spend substantially in the area. Student spending by Florida State University students, both in funds spent in the area and in funds spent at the university, totaled $888 million in fiscal year 2016.

FSU says the 40,440 students at FSU’s Leon County campus are estimated to contribute $44,888,400 in sales taxes to Leon County in 2016. This accounts for about 14.1 percent of total predicted sales tax revenue to Leon County in 2016.

Administrators at FAMU say students spent locally $653,600,000.

"We definitely look forward to when school starts." Fernbach said.

He says he typically hires eight to ten people to accommodate the extra business.

Fernback hired Ian Willers on the spot Wednesday. Willers said, "I am used to crowds and I'm down with that. You're busy, you're not looking at the clock wondering what time it is. Sometimes before you know it, it's time to go home."

Elissa Pizzutto says she's already seeing the difference with students coming back to town. It's been a while since having to wait in a long line at Pitaria. The place was crowded Wednesday at lunchtime.

"The summer was pretty dead, you could eat wherever you wanted. But right now, it's booming. There's a lot of people back in town. Freshmen are trying out new places. So, it's getting busy." Pizzutto said.

Move-in continues for both FSU and FAMU for the rest of the week.

Classes begin Monday, August 28th.