Economy: Town And Gown In Tandem

Georgia’s Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP) sponsors an annual study that estimates the economic impact of college- or university-related spending. The statewide economic impact of the University System of Georgia’s 35 institutions in fiscal year 2010 was $12.6 billion in output (sales) and 130,738 jobs.

Between fiscal year 2007 and fiscal year 2010, total spending by all 35 institutions and their stu-dents rose by 25 percent, and the number of jobs that owe their existence to that spending rose by 23 percent – from 106,267 jobs to 130,738 jobs.

Higher spending by increasing numbers of enrolled students rather than higher spending by the institutions accounted for most of the job growth. The number of off-campus jobs that exist due to institution-related spending rose by 38 percent. University- or college-related spending creates far more jobs off the campus than it does on the campus.

On average, for each job created on campus there are 1.9 off-campus jobs that exist because of spending related to the institution. Almost all of the off-campus jobs are in private sector businesses. The private sector businesses operating in the communities that are home to USG institutions are by far the biggest recipients of institution-related spending. Without exception, each college or university is an economic lynchpin of its host community.

The bottom line is that our colleges and universities really prove their economic worth during tough economic times. That’s partly due to the relatively steady demand for higher education even when economic conditions deteriorate. Spending by the institutions, their employees and students holds up fairly well during economic downturns.

That’s not to say that economic activity in Georgia’s college towns is recession-proof, but hosting a college or university does make college towns recession-resistant. Job stability on campus plus growth in off-campus jobs supported by campus-related spending helped to offset the impact of the Great Recession.

Even in the worst economic times in a generation (or two), our colleges and universities proved to be strong pillars and drivers of the economies of their host communities.

As always, the statewide economic impact estimates – as well as estimates for many of the larger institutions – have received a lot of attention, in contrast to some of the smaller schools. Yet many of the smaller institutions have large economic impacts relative to the size of their communities.

Here are the impacts generated by a dozen of the colleges and universities that are not in one of the state’s larger urban centers.

• Georgia College and State University: This USG institution in Milledgeville generated 2,271 jobs in 2010 compared to 1,885 in 2007.

• Georgia Southwestern State University: The employment impact was 880 jobs in 2010 compared to 793 in 2007.

• North Georgia College and State University: The Dahlonega institution generated 1,830 jobs in 2010 compared to 1,443 in 2007.

• Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College: The total employment impact on Tifton’s economy was 1,061 jobs in 2010 compared to 1,005 jobs in 2007.

• The College of Coastal Georgia: The employment impact was 828 jobs in 2010 compared to 695 jobs in 2007.

• Dalton State College: The employment impact was 1,581 jobs in 2010 compared to 949 jobs in 2007.

• Middle Georgia College: The college in Cochran supported 1,058 jobs in 2010 compared to 839 jobs 2007.

• East Georgia College: The employment impact was 770 jobs in 2010 compared to 471 jobs in 2007.

• South Georgia College: The economic impact on employment was 631 jobs in 2010 compared to 427 jobs in 2007.

• Waycross College: The employment impact was 314 jobs in 2010 compared to 235 jobs in 2007.

Many of us who live in the college towns that are scattered across Georgia know intuitively that our college or university makes a substantial and positive contribution to our lives, but the ICAPP study helps to quantify more precisely just how much college- or university-related spending is interwoven into the business fabric of the hometowns of USG institutions.

Categories: Economy