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University of North Georgia's economic impact on the area might surprise you
UNG estimated to have $620 million effect annually
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University of North Georgia students walk through the Gaineville campus Friday, April 6, 2018. - photo by Scott Rogers

The University of North Georgia, across its five campuses and online programs, had an estimated $620 million economic impact on Northeast Georgia in the 2017 fiscal year.

The study measures direct and indirect spending that contributes to the university’s service region.

“This study is a timely reminder of the significant role UNG has in advancing economic growth and prosperity in the areas we serve,” President Bonita C. Jacobs said in a press release. “The report complements our ongoing work with industry and community partners to increase educational attainment and regional economic development efforts that enhance this region.”  

Bonita Jacobs
University of North Georgia President Bonita Jacobs

While this figure, reported this month in an annual study by the University System of Georgia, comes with caveats, it reveals the growing impact UNG has had on Hall County and the wider region since its establishment in 2013 with the consolidation of North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega and Gainesville State College.

“At best, economic impact numbers indicate a positive contribution … but none of them are infallible,” said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “The economic impact is a measure of institutional spending and short-term benefits.”

The report even acknowledges that “there was no attempt to evaluate the long-term impacts of the University System’s institutions on the economic development of the host communities and the state.”

Tim Evans
Tim Evans

“More than that,” the report states, “there are long-term benefits to improving skills and lifelong learning in the community that are not accounted in an economic impact of spending.”

And it’s these potential long-term benefits – the direct impact of jobs and benefits and spending from UNG’s employment – that have Evans and officials at UNG focusing on future growth and development because of the potential impacts on community quality of life.

“Sometimes what’s lost … is (these studies) don’t consider the future value of earned income from degrees received from UNG Gainesville (graduates),” Evans said.

Most of UNG’s impact is entailed in its operating expenses, including salaries and benefits, as well as other budgeted items.

The university’s approximately 19,000 students spent an estimated $248 million in the 2017 fiscal year, helping spur the creation of 3,721 jobs in the 17-county region – which extends from Gwinnett, Hall and Forsyth on the southern end, east to Clarke and Oconee counties, and north to Habersham and Lumpkin counties – according to the study.

On average, an additional 52 cents is generated for every dollar spent by the university.

UNG, which has campuses in Gainesville, Cumming, Dahlonega, Blue Ridge and in Oconee County, also had a regional employment impact of 6,769 jobs, the study reports.

The employment impact includes on-campus positions and off-campus jobs that exist because of the institution.

As a whole, the public colleges and universities that comprised the USG in 2017 had an impact of $16.8 billion on the state.

The study found Georgia’s public university system generated more than 163,000 full- and part-time jobs.

“The report recognizes what institutions like UNG, Brenau and Lanier Tech do to increase skills, and by doing so, those institutions add value for individuals, their employers and the community,” Evans said. “Having top-quality institutions in Gainesville-Hall County provides those opportunities and skills close to home, and it attracts talent to our community.” 

UNG’s economic impact

To calculate the economic and employment impact for fiscal year 2017, the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, on behalf of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, analyzed data collected between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017.

To read the full study and report prepared by the University System of Georgia, visit www.usg.edu

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