Eller Student Research Proves $32 Million Economic Contribution by Arizona Geological Survey

Sept. 13, 2019
Eller Business Consulting / Arizona Geological Survey team

In Spring 2019, Eller College of Management MBA and MIS students Charles Liuzzo, Ananya Yashi, Charles Brands and Andrew Bartels began assessing the economic impact of the Arizona Geological Survey in the University of Arizona College of Science. The project, part of their required business consulting class, entailed creating and disseminating an online survey to stakeholder groups and evaluating web analytics of Survey web resources and products. The student team also interviewed Survey stakeholders representing government, consulting (mineral exploration, mining, hydrogeology, environmental and geohazard), academia and archaeology.

The culmination of this work was finding that the Survey contributed nearly $32 million to the state of Arizona’s economy in fiscal year 2019, which is a 34-fold return on the survey’s fiscal year 2018 state allocation of $941,000. The Eller team found the state of Arizona’s industries and government agencies saved approximately $30.4 million annually by using Survey products and services.

“Working for the Arizona Geological Survey on this consulting project challenged the team to use everything we’d learned in the MBA classroom about finance, statistics and business communications to solve a problem for a real client,” says Liuzzo ’20 MBA/MS Planning-Architecture. “High-level opportunities like this, and the experiences I gained from it, are why I enrolled at Eller for my MBA.”

A key finding of the study was that the ready availability of Survey products and services makes small- and medium-sized businesses more competitive with their larger counterparts. The report also highlighted that no other agency or entity provides such freely available, high-quality geologic products and services.

“We have found that results like those of our Survey study are not uncommon among our clients,” says Sandy Kenny, executive director of Eller Business Consulting. “Over our more than 20-year history, we have a 98 percent success rate because our students approach these projects as if the company were their employers. It is a wonderful experience for all who engage.”

Since 1915, the Arizona Geological Survey has published more than 1,300 geologic maps, mining reports and data, geologic hazard maps and studies and basin analysis studies, all available for free from the AZGS Document Repository. By Arizona state statue, the survey is charged with providing information for understanding the geologic character, geologic hazards and mineral resources of Arizona; and with providing technical advice and assistance to state, tribal and local civil authorities and industry while encouraging the wise and prudent use of Arizona lands and mineral resources.

The Eller Business Consulting Program provides an opportunity for Eller graduate student teams to work directly with companies on semester-long consulting projects. Projects are unique to each company’s real-world business challenges and opportunities. In addition to the Arizona Geological Survey, clients include Microsoft, Intel, Raytheon and Hexagon.

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