Recent news reports paint a fairly discouraging picture of the Lawrence economy. By one measure, Lawrence’s overall economy grew by one of the slowest rates in the entire country in 2010.
This being the case, consider how fortunate the city is to be home to Kansas University. What would Lawrence be like, what would its economic situation be without the university?
It’s difficult to measure, but the presence of the university with its faculty, students, support staff, university-related activities, maintenance and building expenditures, research dollars, the money left in Lawrence by hundreds of thousands of visitors to KU each year, plus many other sources of money entering the Lawrence economy, all show how important the university is to the welfare of the community.
Consider what a home football game at KU means to the Lawrence economy, particularly in times such as these when many merchants are struggling to stay afloat. Try to figure out how much KU students spend in Lawrence in addition to those expenses tied directly to their schooling at KU.
“University cities” are blessed in many ways, and local residents should be quick to do whatever they can to help and strengthen the university. Kansas cities such as Lawrence, Manhattan, Wichita, Hays, Emporia, Pittsburg, Ottawa, Baldwin City, Topeka and others are fortunate to be the home of a university or college, no matter what its size. These schools are a great stimulus to each community, and the faculty and students at these schools bring vitality and enthusiasm to the host cities.
As noted above, Lawrence residents should be strong, effective and positive spokespeople for the university, and university officials should be aware of the importance of helping the city when possible. It’s a two-way street. One hopes that KU and University of Missouri officials will keep that in mind when it comes time to sign contracts for the location of the annual KU-MU football game.