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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

The value of Central Washington University to Ellensburg Business (letter to the editor)

Letter to the Editor
Ellensburg Daily Record
2/18/82

Recently many of us in the community organized ourselves into a movement to provide “Jobs” here in Kittitas County. We in the business sector are especially active in soliciting contributions from each other to help provide an operating budget for the program. In fact, from the private section of our county we are asking for $20,000 a year for the next three years to help fund the push for greater local employment opportunities. It goes without saying that such spirited local efforts are praiseworthy and sure to meet with some success.

If nothing else (and I believe there will be much else), it has focused our community’s attention on our need for employers to locate in our county. However, before we confine our “Jobs” program to only corporate-type employers I’d like to bring forward some current economic figures concerning a local non-corporate employer – Central Washington University.

It is easy for us to over look the fact that our own CWU is the largest employer in Central Washington. It currently employs over 1,000 local tax-paying citizens. In 1981 the University generated over $58,000,000 in our county alone! The institution itself spent more than $2,600,000 with Ellensburg merchants buying various products and services. The staff employed at CWU generated an estimated $28,900,000 locally in salaries paid and the 5,700 students attending CWU generated another $27,000,000 for our economy. When those figures are broken down that amounts to an astonishing $29,000 generated by each staff member and $4,700 generated by each student. Additionally, the University community generated $200,000 worth of tax revenue from various sources which were returned to Ellensburg. There is simply nothing like it in our region!

I want to draw our attention to these facts to remind us not to forget our very own money machine north of Eighth Street. CWU is like a comfortable slipper to us we rather take its unobtrusive contribution to our lives for granted. However, if our University undergoes severe reduction in staff and students, the closure of Schaake’s will seem inconsequential in comparison.

Whether your “business” is food products or preparation, medical or dental care, city or county bureaucracy, telephone service, building materials and contracting, equipment and appliance repair, real estate, automobiles, securities, laundry, television cable, waste disposal, clothing, sundries, pharmaceuticals, newspaper publishing, printing, recreation, gasoline – whatever you do or wherever you’re employed in this Valley you need Central Washington University! Our economy is simply geared to the operation and presence of CWU.

My point in all of this is to urge us to support “Jobs,” not in place of Central’s fund-raising but in addition to support for CWU. In fact, when CWU fund-raising projects begin to come up in 1982 (e.g., CIP, Associates, Wildcat Booster, auction, Music scholarships, etc.) support those efforts more heavily than ever before — because we need our University more than ever before.

If anyone would like a copy of the current CWU economic impact report one can be picked up at the Chamber of Commerce office.

Robert Case II

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