Utica, NY (WIBX) - Upstate New York colleges provided nearly $23 billion in economic activity during 2011, according to the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.

Terri Standish-Kuon, a spokesperson for the CICU, says growth is based on higher direct and indirect spending, construction and an increase in enrollment.

"We have seen our economic impact over the years rise steadily," Standish-Kuon said.  "So, since 2005, 2007, 2009, and now 2011, we are seeing a strong upward trend. That's the result of colleges and universities being a strong, stable source of jobs in our communities."

Standish-Kuon says the colleges in the CICU generated more than $63 billion for the state's economy last year.

More than 100 independent not-for-profit colleges form the organization. Five colleges, including PrattMWP, Utica College, Hartwick University, Hamilton College and St. Elizabeth College of Nursing are found in the local area.