Photo by Heather Middleton
By Johnny Jackson
Georgia's public higher-learning institutions have helped sustain some local economies, according to a June report on the economic impact of the state's colleges and universities.
The Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business found that the University System of Georgia (USG) had a $12.6 billion economic impact on the state's economy during Fiscal Year 2010.
"Colleges and universities are key drivers in economic development," said Jeffrey Humphreys, the study's author and the director of economic forecasting for the Selig Center. "Higher education institutions educate the workforce, innovate through basic and applied research, and collaborate with employers to help them become more competitive."
The Selig Center analyzed data collected between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, to calculate the 35-member university system's FY10 economic impact.
Two of the institutions serve the Southern Crescent region, including Clayton State University in Morrow, Ga., and Gordon College in Barnesville, Ga.
For Clayton State, the economic impact in currency output rose from $205.6 million in FY09, to $236.2 million in FY10, an increase of 14.9 percent, according to the study.
CSU is located on 175 acres, 15 miles south of downtown Atlanta, and offers eight master's degree programs and 40 baccalaureate degree majors to some 6,600 students.
The study indicated that Clayton State's employment impact rose from 1,697 jobs in FY09, to 2,169 jobs in FY10, an increase of 27.8 percent in the number of on-campus and off-campus jobs due to institution-related spending.
Humphreys noted that the university system's overall employment impact increased substantially, even though the output in regional economies was essentially flat in FY10, compared to FY09.
The economic forecasting director said the growth reflected higher enrollments, more spending by students in labor-intensive economic sectors, and higher overall employment multipliers.
The economic impact study revealed that the impact of Gordon College on its local economy had increased steadily since FY07, when its contribution was $92 million. In FY08, the contribution was $102 million, and it increased to $109 million in FY09.
Gordon College is located on 235 acres in rural, middle Georgia about 20 miles south of Henry County. It offers more than 40 programs of study, including several baccalaureate degree majors, to 5,000 students in the region, and accounted for 1,311 jobs area during FY10, according to the report. The number of jobs related to the college's operations increased by 259 jobs, compared to FY09.
"In addition to the impacts detailed in this report, the university system contributes to the state's economy as the higher education member of Georgia's economic development team, bringing USG resources to 44 prospect company projects during FY 2010," said Terry Durden, assistant vice chancellor of the University System's Office of Economic Development.
"On campuses across the state, career services offices connect Georgia employers with college-educated talent," added Durden. "Professional development offered through continuing education programs keep employees up to date with changing technology and industries."