ST. CLOUD - Thousands of college students are returning to St. Cloud over the next week and are expected to generate millions in the local economy.

Economist King Banaian says St. Cloud State University alone creates thousands of jobs in the area.

"About 5,000 direct jobs are created by SCSU and another 1,500 or so jobs are created by people in the community who serve our students and staff. That comes up to probably somewhere a little more than $500 million in the Central Minnesota region."

Banaian says downtown shops and restaurants around town will benefit from having the students back in town. Around 2,000 first year students moved into their dorms at SCSU yesterday. A total of 16,000-17,000 people take classes at St. Cloud State. Banaian says a 3,000+ students live in nearby apartments and rental homes.

"Where there's a lot of students of course there's a lot of demand for student housing. We have a pretty significant sector of rental units out there and the need to care for those units and have rental offices for them."

Banaian adds that many students also live in other areas of town and that the entire metro is likely to see increased traffic over the next few months.

"Downtown certainly gets some benefit, but it's a statement that our students are using our entire city and surrounding cities for their shopping needs."

Students at Saint John's University and the College of Saint Benedict will be moving in next week. Banaian says those students will also boost the St. Cloud economy by shopping at the west end of town at places like the Crossroads Mall.