UWG Recognized as a Major Asset to the Region

Friday, June 6, 2008

The University of West Georgia’s impact on the state and local economies totals more than $310 million, according to a new study released by the University System of Georgia (USG). The Board of Regents confirmed that UWG continues to be a key economic engine for the region and the state.

West Georgia is listed as one of the top ten institutions for economic contribution to its surrounding community, contributing 2,867 jobs and adding millions to the local and regional economy in personal services, construction expenditures and student spending.

UWG President Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna said the university’s postitive economic impact to the local community will continue to grow.

“We are honored and pleased to play this economic development role and to have this exceptionally symbiotic relationship with our community,” said Sethna. “Our impact is eighth highest in the state. But, when you consider that those ranked higher than we are, five are located in Atlanta and the other two are located in some of Georgia’s larger cities, then you get a feel for this university being a more substantial contributor to its immediate area than most of the others are to theirs.”

Altogether, the 35 institutions in the USG contributed $11 billion to the state’s economy in the fiscal year 2007. Other universities ranked highest in economic contributions with West Georgia are the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, the Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Southern University, Kennesaw State University and Georgia Perimeter College.

West Georgia has been designated as a comprehensive doctoral institution, one of four in the state. UWG offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, specialist and advanced certification programs, distance education courses and an award-winning WebMBA degree.

More than 10,000 students are enrolled at UWG and its satellite campus in Newnan with approximately 2,300 living on the Carrollton campus. UWG offers summer camps that attract hundreds of school children and teenagers and conferences, such as the Water Resource Conference and the Learning Festival, that host hundreds of professionals from throughout the southeast. Cultural events bring hundreds of visitors to Carrollton throughout the academic year.

The year-round activities not only add up to a boom for the local economy, but adds to the quality of life, said Daniel Jackson, president and CEO of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.

“For 100 years, UWG has been part of this community,” said Jackson. “Some things we can measure with dollars and other things we really can’t measure, but this we know, UWG is a major asset to this community and this region, and for that we are grateful. We recognize that many businesses are here because of the university. The sum of those numbers and the contribution to the local economy is great.”

In addition to the $11 billion generated by the USG in 2007, the study determined that Georgia’s public higher education system is responsible for 106,267 full- and part-time jobs. Approximately 42 percent of these positions are on-campus jobs and 58 percent are positions in the private or public sectors.

Dr. David Boldt, chair of the UWG Department of Economics and a professor of economics, said the university not only contributes dollars to the economy but helps to support a strong economic foundation, too.

“Employment at the university adds a stability to Carroll County and the city of Carrollton,” said Boldt. “State employees total eight percent of the work force in this area. That underlying base helps stabilize the economy and doesn’t have the tradition of layoffs as much.”

Boldt said that neighboring counties have a significantly higher rate of layoffs and a lower number of state employees. Paulding, Douglas and Coweta counties have less than two percent of their work force employed by the state.

The Board of Regents’ Office of Economic Development commissioned the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business to analyze the economic data collected between July 1, 2006, and June 30, 2007.

The economic impact study is part of the board’s Intellectual Capital Partnership Program, an initiative of the BOR. The economic report updates a similar study conducted in 2004 that placed the university system’s economic impact at $9.7 billion.

Another aspect of the report is that detailed data across institutions can be used in a wide range of planning purposes by the BOR, state and local agencies, and the private sector. Study author Dr. Jeffrey M. Humphreys, director of Economic Forecasting for the Selig Center, said the importance of higher education institutions to the state economy cannot be underestimated.

“All 35 of the university system’s institutions are economic engines in their communities and the state,” said Humphreys. “The benefits they provide permeate both the private and public sectors of the communities that host the campuses. For each job created on a campus, there are 1.4 off-campus jobs that exist because of spending related to the college or university. 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.”

Re-spending, or the multiplier effect of those billions of dollars as they are spent again in the region, accounted for another $3.8 billion. Researchers found that, on average, for every dollar of initial spending by UWG, an additional 52 cents was generated for the local economy. 

The Selig Center’s report is limited to economic contributions and does not address the many long term benefits that West Georgia imparts to the region’s economic development nor does it measure benefits such as cultural opportunities, community service and intellectual stimulation to local residents.

Spending by UWG retirees who still live in nearby counties and cities is not measured nor are additional sources of income for UWG employees, such as consulting work, personal business activities and inheritances.

“This Economic Impact Report continues to be an invaluable study,” said Terry Durden, interim assistant vice chancellor of the University System’s Office of Economic Development. “It conclusively demonstrates that beyond all the benefits colleges and universities offer communities through a more educated society, cultural opportunities and other activities, our campuses have an ongoing and powerful economic impact on communities large and small.”

For more information and to view the report, go to http://www.icapp.org/pubs/usg_impact_fy2007.pdf.