McDONOUGH — Two area institutions of higher learning, with hefty Henry County student enrollments, have played a notable role in local economies, according to a University of Georgia analysis.
Clayton State University in Morrow, just north of Henry County, and Gordon College in Barnesville, just south of Henry County, were major economic engines in their areas, according to the annual economic impact study produced through the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.
The report evaluates the economic impact of the 35 University System of Georgia (USG) institutions on their host communities. It determined that their collective impact was $13.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2011, which is five percent higher than the $12.6 billion reported for FY10.
The Selig Center analyzed financial and enrollment data from July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011. It has been producing the annual economic impact report since 1999.
The FY11 study found that Georgia’s public university system generated nearly 132,000 jobs, or more than three percent of all the non-farm jobs that exist in Georgia. Officials said that students accounted for the increased spending that generated more jobs off campus this year.
“Comparisons of the FY11 estimates to those for recent years show that our public college and universities really proved their economic worth during tough economic times,” said Jeffrey Humphreys, the study’s author and the Selig Center’s director.
Clayton State’s impact on the Southern Crescent was more than $252 million in current dollars, and 2,311 jobs. The output impact is third among the USG’s 13 state universities, trailing only the larger Kennesaw State and University of West Georgia. And the jobs impact is fourth among the state universities, trailing only Kennesaw, West Georgia and Columbus State.
Last year’s (FY10) figures for Clayton State showed Clayton State’s output impact in current dollars at $236.2 million, and employment impact at 2,169 jobs, which represents a 6.9-percent jump in output impact and a 6.5-percent increase in jobs.
The economic contribution that Gordon College made to the regional economy has continued to grow, increasing by about $18 million during FY11. Spending by Gordon students also increased, up from $81 million in FY10, to $90 million in FY11 in a Barnesville-area economy worth $154 million.
The report also demonstrated an increase of 193 jobs at and around the Gordon campus since FY10. The institution helped sustain 1,504 jobs directly and indirectly for FY11.
“That job growth is quite impressive given that the state’s total employment declined by seven percent during this period,” said Humphreys. “Without exception, each college or university is an economic lynchpin of its host community.”
Humphreys’ analysis stated that, on average, for each job that exists on campus, two off-campus jobs exist because of spending related to the institution. Meaning, almost all of the aforementioned off-campus jobs are in private sector businesses.
“That’s really not too surprising,” he said. “After all, the private sector businesses operating in the communities that are home to USG institutions are by far the biggest recipients of institution-related spending. Each of Georgia’s public colleges and universities are strong pillars and drivers of the economies of their host communities.”