UWG’s Regional Economic Impact Totals to $442 Million

Thursday, July 11, 2013

According to an annual study by the University System of Georgia, the University of West Georgia had a regional economic impact totaling to over $442 million in fiscal year 2012. This amount in spending by UWG and its students is a significant increase from last year’s $418 million. FY 2012 marks the fifth year of UWG’s continued annual impact growth.

"In today's world of higher education, an institution serves a greater responsibility within the community - that of economic impact, development and work force preparation,” said Dr. Kyle Marrero, president of UWG. “It is clear that UWG's economic impact to the region is formidable and will continue to grow as the university grows.”

Among the System’s state universities, the University of West Georgia had the second largest impact overall. Specifically, UWG’s spending supported 4,263 area jobs, up from 3,880 in 2011, and created a labor income impact of over $198 million, an increase of approximately $12 million since 2011. Almost half of UWG’s economic impact is attributed to student spending, which supports 3,064 full-time and part-time jobs off-campus, and the other half is attributed to personal services and operating expenses.

“When we consider employee payroll, student spending, jobs created and all the ancillary jobs, products and services generated to support the institution, this is a huge impact,” said Daniel Jackson, president and CEO of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. “I also like to point out that beyond the dollars and numbers, the infusion of knowledge, intellect, skills, talent and participation from staff and students add great value to a community. That talent surfaces through our civic clubs, churches, entertainment opportunities on and off campus, cultural events, consulting and volunteering.”

This annual study of the University System of Georgia’s economic impact on the State records a 7.4 percent increase from fiscal year 2011 to 2012. In cash, that is a jump of $900 million, from $13.2 billion to a new high of $14.1 billion of direct and indirect spending fueling the regions served by the System’s 31 colleges and universities.

“The study illustrates the significant impact that the University of West Georgia has on the West Georgia economy in terms of both spending and employment,” said Dr. David Boldt, professor and chair of UWG’s Economics Department. “While other sectors such as construction and manufacturing have experienced wide swings in economic activity and employment, UWG has been able to add to its employment base as well as create more jobs in the community as a result of spending by faculty, staff, students and on operating expenses. The region was also very positively impacted by approximately $60 million of capital outlays by UWG during FY2012. ”

To calculate the economic impact for FY12, the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business analyzed data collected between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2012. The annual study is conducted on behalf of the Board of Regents and the study is conducted by Dr. Jeffrey M. Humphreys, director of the Selig Center.

“We have been analyzing the University System’s economic impact for a number of years and what is clear is the importance of these colleges and universities on local and state economies from just about every variable: direct spending, income, production of goods and services and jobs,” said Humphreys.

The first study in the series calculated the USG’s impact at $7.2 billion in FY1999. The latest $14.1 billion represents a $7.0 billion increase since FY 1999 – or 98 percent growth in the system’s economic impact on Georgia’s communities. That gain far outstrips inflation, which was only 38 percent over this same time period, Humphreys said.

Since the “Great Recession” (Dec. 2007-June 2009), the USG’s institutions really proved their economic worth, with their economic impact rising by $2 billion – from $12.1 billion in FY 2008 to $14.1 billion in FY 2012.

“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, said Humphreys. “That’s due to rising demand for higher education regardless of the overall economic climate.”

“Of course, our studies focus on spending and its economic impact, but do not attempt to measure the value the University System adds in terms of quality of life, the creation of a highly educated workforce to meet the needs of businesses, government and communities, or the overall health of communities,” he said.

The FY 2012 study found that Georgia’s public university system generated nearly 139,263 full- and part-time jobs, or 3.6 percent of all the jobs in Georgia. The bottom line is that one job out of every 28 in the State of Georgia is due to the University System.

Approximately 33 percent of these positions are on campus as USG employees and 67 percent are off-campus positions in either the private or public sectors. Humphreys noted that on average, for each job created on campus, there are two off-campus jobs that exist because of spending related to the institution.

Most of the $14.1 billion economic impact consists of initial spending by USG institutions for salaries and fringe benefits, operating supplies and expenses, and other budgeted expenditures, as well as spending by the students who attended the institutions. Initial spending by USG institutions and students equaled $9.8 billion, or almost 69 percent of the total output impact.

The remaining $4.4 billion (31 percent) of the output impact was created by respending – the multiplier effect of the dollars that are spent again in the region. For every dollar of initial spending by a University System institution or its students, research found that, on average, an additional 45 cents was generated for the local economy.

The full study with data for all 31 USG institutions is available at: http://www.usg.edu/economic_development/documents/usg_Impact_fy2012.pdf.

Current and past economic impact studies can be found at: http://www.usg.edu/economic_development/publications/studies