An annual study of the University System of Georgia's economic impact shows that the University of North Georgia (UNG) had a $401 million impact on the communities in its region during fiscal year 2012. UNG, which has campuses in Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee County, also had a regional employment impact of 4,343 jobs in the same time period. The employment impact includes on-campus positions and off-campus jobs that exist due to the institution.
As a whole, the 31 public colleges and universities that comprise the University System of Georgia (USG) had an impact of $14.1 billion on the state, recording a 7.4 percent increase or $900 million during fiscal year 2012.
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 by Dr. Jeffrey M. Humphreys, director of the Selig Center.
The study area for UNG included Banks, Dawson, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Union, and White counties. Humphreys defined the study area based on commuting data from the Residence County to Workplace County Flows for Georgia published by the U.S. Census Bureau.
"This study shows the powerful impact the University of North Georgia has on the economy of northeast Georgia," said President Bonita C. Jacobs. "Also important to note is 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."
This summer, UNG launched a Regional Educational and Economic Development (REED) initiative to build partnerships across the university's broad service area to increase educational opportunities and support economic development. The findings and recommendations from this summer's REED task force meetings will be presented at meeting in September.
"UNG is located in the fastest growing region of the state, and we play an important role in the success and health of this region," Jacobs said.
Most of UNG's $401 million economic impact consists of initial spending by the university for salaries and benefits, operating supplies and expenses, and other budgeted expenditures, as well as spending by the students who attend the university. Initial spending by UNG and its students totaled nearly $302 million, or about 75 percent of the total output impact.
The remaining $99 million or 25 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 USG institution or its students, research found that, on average, an additional 45 cents was generated for the local economy.
"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," Humphreys said. "That's due to rising demand for higher education regardless of the overall economic climate."
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.
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. 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.
Looking at the impact of individual USG institutions, Georgia Tech and UGA had the largest impacts on their regional economies: $2.6 billion and 20,869 jobs at Georgia Tech and $2.2 billion and 22,196 jobs at UGA.
Current and past economic impact studies may be found at: http://www.usg.edu/economic_development/publications/studies