An annual study of the University System of Georgia's (USG) economic impact shows that the University of North Georgia (UNG) had a $545 million impact on the communities in its region during fiscal year 2015, up 25 percent, or $111 million, from the previous year.
"In addition to the important role UNG plays in educating students, the university has a significant and increasing economic impact on northeast Georgia," President Bonita C. Jacobs said. "The value the university adds to the region's quality of life and cultural opportunities, the health of our communities, and the preparation of a highly educated workforce to meet the region's needs is tremendous."
UNG, which has campuses in Blue Ridge, Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee County, also had a regional employment impact of 5,590 jobs in the same period. The employment impact includes on-campus positions and off-campus jobs that exist due to the institution.
The study area for UNG included Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Dawson, Forsyth, Green, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Union, Walton and White counties. This is the first year that information for Oconee County was included in the data.
Most of UNG's $545 million economic impact consists of initial spending by the university for salaries and benefits, operating supplies and expenses, and other budgeted expenditures. Included in UNG’s economic impact is $210 million in spending by UNG’s more than 17,000 students, which alone created 2,709 jobs in the study area.
Not only does UNG’s growth stimulate the north east region of Georgia economically, but it also stimulates entrepreneurship and startups, according to Ruben Boling, director of the Center for the Future of North Georgia in UNG's Mike Cottrell College of Business.
"The increase in students and spending presents opportunities for growth in new businesses in a couple of ways. As the student base grows it is becoming more diverse with changing wants and needs to be met by new entrepreneurial businesses. In addition, other opportunities are created by the increased demand on existing businesses with needs to support the growth."
As a whole, the 31 public colleges and universities that comprised the USG in 2015 had an impact of $15.5 billion on the state, representing a $1.3 billion increase from the previous year.
The study found that Georgia's public university system generated more than 150,000 full- and part-time jobs. 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. The report also 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.
To calculate the economic and employment impact for fiscal year 2015, the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business, on behalf of the Board of Regents, analyzed data collected between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.