ST. CLOUD -- Every year St. Cloud sees a shift in its economy when nearly 25,000 students return to the area for fall semester.

King Banaian, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at St. Cloud State University says St. Cloud State students have a large impact on the St. Cloud economy.

"The impact of students in this economy comes up to about $240 million dollars, that's a pretty large number, we're about a $7.5 billion dollar economy, so it's a pretty decent size."

St. Cloud and the surrounding area is also home to many other colleges and universities, Banaian says the students that attend those institutions have a positive effect on the local economy.

"There's also additional impact for those students returning to St. Cloud Technical and Community College, St. Ben's and St. John's, that would be on top of that $240 million from here [SCSU] and so you might actually put that number closer to half a billion dollars [$500 million]."

Since the traditional school year starts in the fall and ends in early spring, many students leave the area when classes are not in session, this can cause staffing issues for businesses with student employees. Banaian says that businesses work closely with students to work around their school schedules.

"For example I know Target will keep people on their roster for a year and let them be on hiatus. So if they live here but go to school some place outside of St. Cloud they can come back and work in the summer and visa versa. There may be students who work at Target during the school year and go away for the summer and their places are held for them when they get back. Businesses find ways to manage that pool of labor which is very tight."

Students represent a large portion of St. Cloud area workers.

"Almost 15 percent of our workers work in retail, another 7-8 percent work in leisure and hospitality, that's a very substantial number of the work force in St. Cloud. Many of those people in those two areas will be younger folks, many of them in fact will be students."

Local businesses and restaurants also see increased sales during fall move-in weekend. Freshmen move-in day at SCSU was yesterday (Thursday) and returning students will be moving back to campus today (Friday). Fall semester classes begin on Monday.