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AFA graduation visitors give Colorado Springs $38 million

AFA Graduation Economic Impact

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Air Force Academy cadets get their diplomas on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Colorado Springs is reaping the benefits.

Roughly 35,000 people usually come to Colorado Springs for the graduation and economists say nearly $40 million goes into our local economy. It's helping businesses and taxpayers.

The grill was hot at Amanda's Fonda on North Academy Boulevard on Tuesday and so is business.

"We have to turn people away and just tell them hey you guys, first come, first serve, call us up because we can't guarantee you a spot," said Rod Barreda, Amanda's Fonda Operations Director.

Minutes away from the Air Force Academy, the locally-owned Mexican restaurant is welcoming the graduation crowds.

"It's exciting. The servers get excited. We get excited," said Barreda.

Hotels are packed for the week. Embassy Suites off Woodmen Road says it's 90 percent full thanks to cadets and their families. Downtown, businesses are hoping for empty stomachs.

"It's definitely a trickle effect because they have to eat and they're all looking to eat out. Plus, they want to eat at some places that their kids have been frequenting," said Skirted Heifer owner Suzette Megyeri.

2012 graduation numbers show during graduation week visitors and their graduates spent $26,250,000. Then, when you throw in parents weekend, it totals $38,858,500.

"Wow. I didn't even know it was that much money. I'll take about a percent of that, definitely," said Barreda.    

"It's mind blowing," said Megyeri. 

About $2 million goes to sales tax revenue.

"Here that goes to things like our roads and filling the potholes that everybody's worried about," said Andrew Merritt the Chief Defense Industry Officer for Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

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