Originally Published: October 2, 2000 7:15 p.m.
Whether they sell coffee, beer, granola, sleeping bags or tattoos, local businesses agree that college students mean money.
Each fall, students from Prescott's three main colleges – Yavapai College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Prescott College – pump millions of dollars into the local economy.
Yavapai College – by far the largest contributor with about 11,000 students county-wide – estimates that its students and related visitors annually spend about $38 million.
Embry-Riddle figures that its 1,600 students spend about $8 million each year, while related visitors and prospective students spend more than $1 million.
Prescott College believes that its 471 resident-degree students spend about $5 million annually, while its out-of-state adult-degree and master's degree students – who regularly visit Prescott for seminars and conferences – spend about $500,000.
Besides paying rent, buying gas, books and other obvious necessities, where do all these students spend that money?
Local bars, for starters.
"We love 'em," says Richard Long, co-owner of Lyzzards Lounge. "They have a major impact on our business."
Long said that students of age "take up the slack" when they return to town in the fall, just as the tourism season starts tapering off. "That's a perfect situation for us," he said.
Tresa Cavanauth, who works at Coyote Joe's, said "we always notice a difference" when college students come back to town.
"Business picks up at night," she explained. "The live entertainment brings in the Prescott College and Embry-Riddle students – those are our two main groups."
Alan Niven, owner of Desperados, said "the Embry-Riddle boys have a wonderful impact on us."
Niven said that he doesn't get as much business from the other two schools.
"We're a slightly more upscale place," he explained. "So we tend to be a little more up-market in who we attract, and who we like to attract, and who we like to keep."
While college students like to booze it up in the bars, they remain well-behaved.
"The customers we have are great," Long said. "They really don't get rowdy in here ... they don't really create any kind of problems – most of them are responsible drinkers."
Cavanauth said that Coyote Joe's' customers are "very polite" and that "we enjoy having their business. They seem to have a good time … and they spend money."
Niven said that Embry-Riddle students are some of his best customers.
"They're extraordinarily well-behaved and gracious patrons," he said. "I only wish all Prescottonians were as well-behaved as the Embry-Riddle crowd."
Laura Vucich, co-owner of the Futon Corner, said that she notices an upswing in her business three times a year – when college sessions begin in the fall, spring and summer.