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Local state colleges’ economic impact is $344 million

POSTED: April 2, 2009 12:19 a.m.

According to a recent study local colleges and universities are doing more than educating students, they are also helping to boost local economies.

The study conducted by The Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business measured the impact of University System of Georgia institutions on the surrounding communities.

Locally, Gainesville State College and North Georgia College & State University have had the combined economic impact of $344 million while providing 3,129 jobs, the study says.

"Colleges like North Georgia and Gainesville State tend to do pretty well in enrollment, especially during challenging economic times like these because more people are going back to retool their skills to try and get a better job or just a job period," said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

"I think the economic impact of these schools is probably understated, because when do you start measuring what the value of skills enhancement is for those young adults, adults and nontraditional students who are going back to better themselves?"

Study researchers report that on average for every $1 that is spent in the community by a system institution, "an additional 51 cents is generated for the local economy hosting a college or university."

For Gainesville State College, the impact area for that institution included Hall, Gwinnett, Jackson, White, Habersham, Lumpkin, Banks and Forsyth counties. For North Georgia College and State University, the study area included Lumpkin, Hall, Dawson, White, Forsyth and Union counties.

Overall, the annual study reports the University System of Georgia’s 35 institutions had more than $12 billion economic impact on Georgia’s economy for the 2008 fiscal year; in 2007, it was around $11 billion. Those figures have grown since 1999, the first year of the study, when the system’s economic impact was only $7.7 billion.

"The report shows that the university system continues to be one of the state’s major economic engines, and North Georgia plays a vital role in helping support the economy in our region," said David Potter, North Georgia College and State University president, in a prepared statement.

According to Jeffrey Humphreys, director of economic forecasting for the Selig Center, for each job that is created on a college or university’s campus, another 1.6 jobs exists off-campus because of spending related to the institution.

"Our community already appreciates the accessible and quality education that Gainesville State provides, and I hope this updated report on our economic impact will increase the awareness of our positive role in the economic health of Northeast Georgia as well," Martha Nesbitt, Gainesville State College president, wrote in a prepared statement.

"This community’s support of the college through its foundation is a key to providing scholarships for deserving students and providing enhancements in our academic programs which have given the institution a reputation of excellence and which prepare students to successfully complete their baccalaureate degree."



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