CSUs Economic Impact On Region Estimated At More Than $146 Million

COLUMBUS - A new state study has estimated there is a total economic impact of almost $150 million by Columbus State University on the region it serves.

The figures were released Monday in a report that concludes Georgia's 34 public colleges and universities had a massive impact on the state's economy during the last fiscal year, generating nearly 101,500 jobs and infusing $8 billion into local communities. The Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business conducted the study.

In Columbus, CSU's total economic impact was listed at $146.2 million. The report also determined that 2,205 jobs existed in fiscal year 2000-01 -- on campus and off campus -- as a result of spending by the university.

'It is our hope, and belief, that the benefit of CSU to this community and this region goes well beyond a monetary value,' said CSU President Frank Brown. 'It can be easier though for people to appreciate the worth of an organization when it is reduced to a quantifiable value. And there certainly is some meaning in the raw economic numbers.'

Partnering with the community and its businesses to meet the area's needs is a cornerstone of CSU's roots and the foundation for its future. The most-often mentioned example of that partnership leading to the economic success reflected in the latest figures is ICAPP, or the Intellectual Partnership Program. ICAPP is a state initiative designed to help businesses and universities establish partnerships to bring the intellectual resources of the University System of Georgia to help solve business-related problems. The program started as a partnership between TSYS and CSU to provide skilled computer programmers for the company.

There are an abundance of other examples also; such the College of Education's efforts to train future teachers, plus help current teachers learn technology. There's the new Hospitality Industry Partnership Program, which trains workers hired by hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses; and the John Cunningham Sales and Leadership Institute, which hones the skills of salespeople and helps those seeking real estate licenses.

The Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce cites CSU's involvement with several other programs that aid workforce development, including the Graduate Student Partnership Program, which is designed to provide area businesses with skilled human resources to assist with short-term projects, and the Management Development Academy, which offers a full range of AMA Certified Management courses to area businesses.

Multiply such local efforts throughout the state and altogether, the university system generated $3.7 billion in labor income in fiscal year 2001, the study said.

Of the University System's $8 billion total economic impact, $5 billion, or 63 percent, represents initial spending by the USG institutions and the students attending them; the remaining $3 billion, or 37 percent, represents the impact generated by the re-spending of these dollars. The study concludes that, on average, every dollar spent by a USG institution or student injects an additional 56 cents into the host region's economy.

The Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP), an initiative of the Board of Regents' Office of Economic Development, commissioned the study by Jeffrey M. Humphreys, director of economic forecasting at the Selig Center. To enhance understanding of how the University System of Georgia contributes to the state's economy, he analyzed three categories of college/university-related expenditures:
* Spending by the institutions themselves for salaries and fringe benefits, operating supplies and expenses,and other budgeted expenditures;
* Spending by the institutions on capital projects (construction); and
* Spending by the students who attend the universities.

Humphreys said the University System's 34 institutions collectively accounted for 101,427 jobs in the state during fiscal year 2001 - 2.8 percent of all the jobs in Georgia, or about one job in 37.

Approximately 43 percent of the University System's jobs are on campus and 57 percent are off-campus in either the private or public sectors. On average, for each job created on campus, 1.4 off-campus jobs exist because of spending related to the institution, he noted.

The study area for Columbus State University was Chattahoochee, Harris,Marion, Muscogee, Stewart and Talbot counties.

'The University System of Georgia truly is an economic engine that helps to power our state on many levels, from producing graduates to building capital projects, to leveraging our employment and spending power,' said Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith. 'Dr. Humphreys' study documents our value in very specific terms, adding dimension to the many intangibles our campuses contribute to the economy on a daily basis.'

Brown agreed with Meredith that economic figures are important, but that they don't reflect the total impact of an educational institution on its region.

'We are proud of our economic impact on the city and state, and we delight in playing a key role in the creation of new jobs and preparing students to be productive members of our society,' Brown said. 'It just happens to be our belief that educated citizens, in all areas of society, lend a value to our lives that exceeds the ability of a measuring scale to place it in perspective.'



The complete report is available on the University Systems Web site under Publications.