University Economic Impact Estimated At Close To $175 Million

COLUMBUS A new state study estimates a total economic impact of almost $175 million by Columbus State University on the region it serves, an increase of nearly $20 million since the last such study two years ago.

The figures were released today in a report on the University System of Georgias $9.7 billion annual economic impact on the state, which indicates that the economic clout of the university systems 34 public colleges and universities continues to increase.

The study, which spanned fiscal year 2004, was conducted by the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgias Terry College of Business for the University System of Georgia (USG). It was initially released in 2000 covering fiscal year 1999, updated in 2002 to report fiscal years 2000 and 2001, and has just been updated again to show a $1.7 billion increase in the systems economic impact since the 2002 study (identified as $8 billion in fiscal year 2001).

In addition to the $9.7 billion in 'output impact' generated by the USG, the study found that public higher education is responsible for 2.8 percent of Georgias workforce, or 106,831 full- and part-time jobs.

In Columbus, there were 2,385 jobs in 2004 were attributable to Columbus State University; 870 full- and part-time jobs on campus and 1,515 off campus. (The ICAPP report lists 499 jobs on campus, but CSU figures show the actual number to be 870.) The report also says the university and its students spend more than $125 million directly into the region.

These numbers are very effective at detailing the impressive economic impact that is generated in the community because of the partnerships that have been created with Columbus State University, said CSU President Frank Brown. Unfortunately, it is much harder to numerically detail CSUs educational, cultural and intellectual impact on the region, which is actually where the economic benefits usually begin.

Columbus State Universitys economic impact was calculated to be $174.3 million in fiscal year 2004, up from $146.2 million in 2004.

The single biggest factor driving the increase in the systems economic impact is the significant growth in the number of students enrolled in Georgias public colleges and universities, said Jeffrey M. Humphreys, director of economic forecasting for the Selig Center. Not only are there more students, but they are spending more. And of course, with more students, institutions are spending more to serve them.

His study was commissioned by the Intellectual Capital Partnership Program (ICAPP), an initiative of the Board of Regents Office of Economic Development that started from a CSU partnership with TSYS. The $9.7 billion 'output impact' is a measure of sales in a community.

The study calculated spending by each of the systems 34 institution on salaries and benefits, operati ng supplies and expenses ($3.8 billion), as well as spending by students who attend that particular institution ($2.6 billion). Of the $9.7 billion total, $6.4 billion (66 percent) is initial spending by the institutions and students; $3.3 billion (34 percent) is the multiplier effect of those dollars as they are spent again in the region. Humphreys found that on average, for every dollar of initial spending in a community by university system institutions, an additional 52 cents was generated for the local economy hosting a college or university.

Yet another component of the study is the analysis of the employment impact of all 34 institutions on their host communities. The impact on jobs is significant, accounting for $4.4 billion in salaries and wages for 106,831 full- and part-time employees. Approximately 62 percent of these jobs are off-campus positions in either the private or public sectors and 38 percent are on-campus employees of the University System. The study found that on average, for each job created on campus, there are 1.7 off-campus jobs that exist due to spending related to the institution. Jobs related to the University System account for about one in every 36 Georgia jobs.

Humphreys notes that the figures do not include spending by people who visit USG campuses to attend meetings, athletic events and reunions, spending by USG retirees living in a community, and income earned by USG employees through consulting and other activities.

This is the first year the study did not include the economic impact of construction projects on the University System's campuses. Because of this change, some University System institutions may show a decline in overall economic impact, despite the fact there may have been a significant increase in enrollment over the time period between the two studies.

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Note: A complete copy of the report can be accessed on the Web at: http://www.icapp.org/pubs/impact