Husson University has created a stock index to track the financial performance of companies that most directly impact Maine’s economy.

Calculated by the Bangor-based university’s students on a weekly basis when classes are in session, the Husson Stock Index aggregates the stock prices of 28 publicly traded companies with strong ties to Maine. A few are headquartered in the state, but most either employ a large number of Mainers or sell products the state relies on heavily.

While the index has yet to prove itself as a reliable economic indicator, it has greatly benefited the university’s business students by giving them their own real-time stock index to work with, said J. Douglas Wellington, associate professor of finance at Husson’s School of Business and Management.

“It helps connect students to the companies in Maine, to investing and to the stock market as a whole,” Wellington said.

The index provides both a numerical benchmark and an opportunity for understanding market movement, he said. Students go through a weekly exercise of looking at current events and determining their impact on stock valuations.

The analysis is part of an educational experience for students to increase their understanding of stocks and why prices fluctuate. When combined with analysis, the measurement tool provides students with a better understanding of Maine’s business climate.

“The companies in this price-weighted index are either based in Maine or have an influence on our state’s economy through employment, the number of consumers they serve, or their overall presence,” Wellington said.

The index initially was proposed and co-developed, along with Wellington, by former Husson student Marie Heath. Today, Heath is a finance manager in the University’s Office of Financial Services.

“We really looked at presence in the state, and do they have a large amount of employees,” Heath said. “We also tried to be really diverse with multiple types of industries that we have in the index.”

Husson College of Business Dean Marie Hansen said the index was born out of Husson’s Center for Financial Technology, which opened in 2014. Knowing that many of Husson’s students are from Maine and plan to continue working in the state, Wellington was interested in finding a way to give students a personal stake in the financial markets. Heath’s idea seemed like a great solution.

“There are not a voluminous number of companies that emanate from the state of Maine, but they have touches within the state of Maine,” Hansen said.

Examples include Valero Energy Corp., which is based in San Antonio, Texas, but has a large presence in Maine through its dozens of fueling stations. Another is Colgate-Palmolive Co., the New York-based conglomerate that purchased a controlling 84 percent stake in Tom’s of Maine for $100 million in 2006.

“Maine does indeed have a great influence and connection to public companies,” Hansen said. “There are things that we can measure right here within the state of Maine.”

Wellington said the next phase of the Husson Stock Index project will be to measure how accurately the index functions as a real-time indicator of Maine’s economic activity. He said the business college plans to tackle that challenge within the coming year.

Husson’s business college is among the state’s largest, with about 1,500 actively enrolled students. To follow the index along with weekly reports generated by students, visit Husson University’s website.