Town manager Julia Griffin said at least 50 percent of Hanover's employed residents work for the College or live with a spouse who does. Griffin said Dartmouth is the "economic employment engine" for commuters from other parts of the Upper Valley as well as the town of Hanover.
According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey for 2007-2011, approximately 61 percent of Hanover workers are employed in educational services or health care and social assistance, compared to 23.6 percent of employees in the state of New Hampshire. This reflects the impact of the College and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, two of the area's hiring giants.
The College generates spending at local establishments, booking rooms at hotels in the area, purchasing materials and equipment from local shops and taking people out to eat in Hanover restaurants, Griffin said.
Dartmouth students are the most important clients of restaurants and retailers. Local establishment that sell goods available online take a hit when students choose surfing the web over visiting local shops, Griffin said.
"Downtown retailers depend on the student population as a core component," she said. "We always encourage students to shop downtown."
Griffin said local business is highly dependent on the schedules of students and their visiting parents. Local businesses saw revenues decrease when Dartmouth changed its calendar last year, leaving fewer students on campus between Thanksgiving and winter break.
Dartmouth also generates tourism, attracting students as part of their "round robin" college-viewing trips, Griffin said. These students inevitably spend money at local restaurants and stores, providing a source of income that towns in less highly trafficked areas lack.
Nigel Leeming, owner of Murphy's on the Green and Three Guys Basement Barbeque, said the College is a primary source of his restaurants' business, bringing in many different customers ranging from students to alumni to tourists.
"If the College wasn't here, nobody would be here," he said. "It's huge. I think there's six or seven layers of business that come from the College being here."
Leeming said the College creates a warm atmosphere.
"College towns came to be sort of optimistic places," he said. "Even the tourists who come here are optimistic about what they're visiting. There's a vibrancy that you get at most college towns they're really special."
Canoe Club owner John Chapin said students are not the restaurant's primary clients.
"Fortunately, we've been able to build up a clientele, which consists primarily of local people," he said. "However, the Dartmouth students when they're not in town are missed, and it's more the second tier of the Dartmouth students."
Hanover Inn general manager Joe Mellia said people associated with Dartmouth are the hotel's primary clients. The proportion of customers associated with the College ebbs and flows based on the seasons and business spikes at the Hanover Inn and Pine, the hotel's restaurant, during big weekends and home football games, he said.
Mellia said the hotel's prime location near the Green and the Hopkins Center gives the establishment an advantage over its competition when it comes to pricing.