State’s 31 Public Colleges and Universities Have a $14.1 Billion Economic Impact; Columbus State’s Economic Impact Measured at $247 Million

ATLANTA – (July 10) – An 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 to a new high of $14.1 billion, and shows that Columbus State University has a $247 million economic impact on its surrounding region.

In cash, that increase statewide is $900 million more from $13.2 billion last year in direct and indirect spending fueling the regions served by the system’s 31 colleges and universities.

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 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.

For Columbus State University, the growth in economic impact also has been significant. Just a dozen years ago in Columbus for fiscal year 2000-01, CSU’s total economic impact was listed at $146.2 million. Additionally, the report determined that 2,205 jobs existed – on campus and off campus – as a result of spending by the university.

Twelve years later, CSU’s economic impact in FY 2012 grew by $100 million to $247 million, the latest report shows. The analysis says 2,620 local jobs can be attributed to CSU – 740 on campus and 1,880 off-campus jobs that exist due to institution-related spending. Initial spending by Columbus State University is measured at almost $58 million in personal services, $42.5 million in operating expenses and more than $97 million in student spending. A multiplier formula creates an “output impact” for CSU that’s measured at $247,387,901.

“We look forward to this report every year to put a dollar amount on how Columbus State University benefits this area economically,” said Columbus State University President Tim Mescon. “Of course, we also use this as an opportunity to also talk about some of those contributions that are harder to measure, such as the impact our RiverPark campus has had on uptown Columbus, the quality of life enhancements from our fine and performing arts programs, and the lasting impact that is delivered by CSU-trained teachers, nurses, public safety personnel, business people and leaders.”

Humphreys, the study’s author, also said it was important to remember the overall value of an educational institution.

“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.

“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.”

Since the “Great Recession” (Dec. 2007-June 2009), the USG’s institutions 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.

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:

Current and past economic impact studies can be found at: