Study: CSU has nearly $200 million impact

By Curt Yeomans


The results of a study released by the University System of Georgia this week revealed that Morrow-based Clayton State University generated $198.4 million for the local economy during fiscal year 2008.

The Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business, and the university system, on Wednesday, released their findings from the study, which looked at the economic impact, and the number of full-time and part-time jobs created at each of the state's 35 public colleges and universities.

Nearly half of the money generated by Clayton State during the last fiscal year came from its students spending money in the community, according to the study. The university also provided jobs to 1,674 students, professors and staff.

"While the university serves multiple communities, there should be no doubt that the local community, Clayton County and the Southern Crescent, is closest to home," University Spokesman John Shiffert said. "As the saying goes, you bloom where you're planted. For Clayton State, that means we also help our home communities bloom through, among many other things, our economic impact."

The entire university system had an economic impact of $12.1 billion, while providing 40,740 jobs, according to the study. The university system announced in a statement that Clayton State and Atlanta Metropolitan College, Georgia Tech, Georgia Perimeter College, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, and Southern Polytechnic State University combined to generate a $4.9 billion economic impact for metropolitan Atlanta.

"While our research has consistently shown the important economic contributions public colleges and universities make to communities and the state, this latest study supports the argument that the University System can play an important role in helping Georgia's economy recover," said Jeffrey Humphreys, the Selig Center's director of economic forecasting, and the author of the study.

"For each job created on a campus, there are 1.6 jobs that exist off-campus, because of spending related to the college or university," Humphreys said. "These economic impacts demonstrate that continued emphasis on colleges and universities as a pillar of the state's economy translates into jobs, higher incomes and greater production of goods and services for local households and businesses."

Morrow Business and Tourism Association President and Executive Director Mike Twomey said Clayton State's more than 6,000 students provide the city with a large group of consumers to serve, but serves as a draw for businesses as well.

Twomey said businesses are drawn to college towns because there is a large market to tap into when students, and out-of-town visitors -- who come to Clayton State for athletic events or performances at the university's Spivey Hall -- are taken into account.

"People [and businesses] want to move to college towns, because college students are consumers," Twomey said.

Clayton State opened its first on-campus housing facility last August. The facility houses more than 400 first-year students, and the university is planning more housing projects, which will be aimed at older students.

Twomey said Morrow is developing several projects that will be aimed, at least partially, toward college-age students. One of those projects is an area that includes pubs, and outdoor music venues, he said. Twomey said the city is also planning a "Black Box Theater," which will provide a small setting for local playwrights to mount dramatic stage plays.

One of the local playwrights the city hopes to lure to the theater is Clayton State University Theater Director Phillip DePoy.

"They [students] have to have some sort of entertainment," Twomey said. "We want to be very inclusive of the college students because they live here while they go to Clayton State, and we also want them to feel like they are always a part of the community."