Sep 28, 2012 6:35 PM by Andy Koen
Healthcare was the main attraction at the Southern Colorado Economic Forum Friday with the Memorial Hospital lease agreement taking a leading role.
"By 2014, I would expect to see a noticeable presence on the UCCS campus with the growing education programs for the health care industry," said economist Fred Crowley.
As construction of a new medical building begins on campus, Crowley said the arrival of a branch medical school at UCCS could have a tremendous economic impact.
"University based healthcare facilities grow approximately two to three times faster in communities that have them."
The university expects to see their first medical school students to arrive in the fall of 2016. UCCS Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Innovation Charles Sweet says many students will perform their residencies at Memorial, but others could travel farther south.
"Potentially in hospitals throughout Southern Colorado down to Pueblo," Sweet said.
Next to health care, Crowley says oil has the greatest potential to lift our local economy.
"This could bring as many as 5,000 jobs a year over 15 years if in fact we find that there's oil that's developable on a commercial scale."
He adds that salaries in the oil industry average around $86,000 a year, roughly double median salary range.
However, Crowley warns the biggest threat to our economy is what's been dubbed the fiscal cliff: a combination of expiring Bush era income tax cuts coupled with billions in defense cuts and other drawbacks in federal spending.
"(We are) such a heavily dependent military community, we are really concerned just how much it may affect us."