Study: GGC's economic impact at $130.6M

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Georgia Gwinnett College had an economic impact of $130.6 million on the Gwinnett region during the 2009-10 fiscal year, according to an economic study recently released by the Selig Center for Economic Growth.

GGC's economic impact included generating 870 jobs in the local community, in addition to 478 campus jobs, the report said. Daniel Kaufman, the college's president, said construction of campus facilities alone has generated more than $300 million since GGC opened in Lawrenceville in 2006.

"Higher education drives a community's economic engine," GGC president Daniel Kaufman said. "Colleges and universities educate the workforce, create innovations through research and help businesses become more competitive through collaborations. A college's very presence contributes to the local economy through job creation and spending."

Overall, the Selig Center in the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business found that the University System of Georgia had a $12.6 billion economic impact on the state's economy during the 2010 fiscal year.

The Selig Center analyzed data collected between July 1, 2009, and June 30, according to a news release. The study included the initial spending by University System institutions on salaries and fringe benefits, operating supplies and expenses, and other budgeted expenditures. This was combined with spending by students attending the institutions and re-spending -- the multiplier effect of those dollars as they are spent again and again in the region.

The study found that, on average, every dollar of initial spending by a University System institution in its host community generated an additional 38 cents for the local economy, the news release states.

The eight institutions located in the metro-Atlanta area accounted for $5.8 billion of the system's $12.6 billion total. Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Clayton State University, Kennesaw State University, Southern Polytechnic State University, Georgia Gwinnett College, Atlanta Metropolitan College and Georgia Perimeter College also produced 53,658 jobs.

Statewide, Georgia's public higher education system generated 130,738 full- and part-time jobs, or 3.4 percent of all jobs in Georgia in the 2010 fiscal year. Most of those jobs -- 66 percent -- were off-campus positions in the private or public sectors that exist because of the presence in the community of University System institutions. The remainder of the jobs were on campus.

Gainesville State College had an economic impact of $204 million and generated 2,254 full- and part-time jobs. Of those, 606 were on campus. The counties of Hall, Gwinnett, Jackson, White, Habersham, Lumpkin, Banks and Forsyth were included in Gainesville State's study area.

"Although our area is still struggling with economic challenges, Gainesville State College continues to increase its economic impact that helps drive the economy," President Martha Nesbitt said. "While our primary mission is to provide access to quality higher education to Northeast Georgia, we are pleased to be an important economic engine as well."

In north Georgia, the combined economic impact of North Georgia College and State University, Gainesville State College, Dalton State College and Georgia Highlands was $588 million with an employment impact of 7,122 jobs.

In the Athens area, the University of Georgia pumped more than $2 billion into the economy, according to the report.

Overall, UGA spent nearly $632 million in salaries and $367 million in operating expenses, and UGA students spent an additional $447 million in and around Athens.

"The main message here is that schools of higher education prove their economic worth during recession, partly due to relatively steady demand for higher education -- even with an economic recession, demand stays steady or even increases," said Jeff Humphreys, director of economic forecasting for the Selig Center. "Colleges and universities are certainly not recession-proof, but they are recession-resistant. Downturns in college- or university-related spending tend to be milder than the drop in raw economic activity, but the turn-around may also be slower to happen."