Purple money: Local businesses encouraged to profit from High Point University

Aug. 04, 2013 @ 05:33 AM

High Point University’s economic impact:

  • Money spent at passport partners in academic year of 2012-13: $559,760
  • Total number of money spent at passport partners so far in 2013: $290,350
  • Number of families who came to High Point to visit HPU in 2012: 6,000
  • Annually, High Point University creates a $464.5 million impact on the state of North Carolina and a $394.6 million annual impact on the Piedmont Triad

Source: High Point University

HIGH POINT — When a customer walks into Beamer Tire and Auto Repair, Doug Beamer can usually tell if they are a High Point University student.

They’re young.

Some have Yankee accents.

Their license plates are often from out of state.

And they drive really nice cars.

It’s no secret that students (OK, their parents) pay a lot of money to attend High Point University. The average tuition is about $45,000.

While there are exceptions with scholarships and other unique cases, many of these students from all over the country and the world come from wealthy families.

And many have a lot of money to spend in High Point.

In stores and restaurants around the city you’ll see that purple sticker in the window that reads, “We LOVE High Point University.” Bright purple HPU shade umbrellas and the purple HPU flag are spotted outside local businesses, too.

Those businesses are Passport Partners with HPU. They accept special, pre-paid cards from students and staff. Parents put money in the students’ cards at the start of the school year to spend at those businesses. Last school year, more than $500,000 from those cards was spent at local businesses.

Faculty also use these cards. Sometimes they’ll find a bonus from their boss on the card.

HPU sends these Passport Partners business, too. 

Like an upscale hotel, the university has a concierge service. If a student or visiting parent has car trouble, the concierge suggests Beamer’s shop.

From tanning beds and hair salons to barbecue and urgent care, there are more than 85 of these business partners all over the High Point area.

Last week, Passport business owners and employees attended an appreciation luncheon with college President Nido Qubein at HPU.

Qubein talked to the group, spotlighting HPU’s impact on local businesses.

“We want our students to spend money here in High Point and support you,” Qubein said.

There are about 5,500 students and employees this school year. The total payroll for HPU employees is about $90 million a year.

“That’s how much access to cash you’ve got,” Qubein told the group, adding that he encourages his staff to live in High Point.

Qubein asked the businesses to make HPU students and staff feel welcome, fly the HPU flag and build near the university.

Qubein talked about HPU’s growth:

• In about seven years, the university’s revenue grew from $30 million to $200 million

• HPU has purchased 700 houses to make way for expansions

• In the last few years 48 buildings have been built on campus – all built by Triad companies

• HPU spent $850 million on those buildings, borrowing less than a sixth of the money

• This summer the university spent $7 million, “Just doing stuff,” Qubein said. “And we do this every summer.”

Qubein said he wants his students to feel connected to the community and enjoy it.

“We want our students to like our city,” he said. The university loses some to more exciting cities like Los Angeles or New York. “How do we make High Point alive and thriving in the minds of those who visit here?” Qubein asked.

mward@hpe.com | 888-3543