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Report: UNG's economic impact on north Georgia tops $600 million

New data released this week shows the University of North Georgia had a $620 million economic impact on northeast Georgia during fiscal year 2017.

The annual study of the University System of Georgia's, or USG, economic impact 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," said Bonita C. Jacobs, president of the college. "The report complements our ongoing work with industry and community partners to increase educational attainment and regional economic development efforts that enhance this region."  

Most of UNG's $620 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 $248 million in spending by UNG’s nearly 19,000 students, which alone created 3,721 jobs in the study area. On average, for every dollar spent by the university, an additional 52 cents is generated for the region.

The study areas for UNG included Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Dawson, Forsyth, Greene, Gwinnett, Habersham, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Union, Walton and White counties, communities where UNG campuses are located or contiguous communities. The 17 county study areas were defined based on commuting data obtained from the Residence County to Workplace County Flows for Georgia, compiled from U.S. Census Bureau.    

UNG, which has campuses in Blue Ridge, Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee County, also had a regional employment impact of 6,769 jobs in the same period. The employment impact includes on-campus positions and off-campus jobs that exist due to 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.

"As we strive to graduate more students, keep college affordable and increase the efficiency in delivering education, it's important to keep in mind that higher education is an investment, and from these numbers it's a smart one," USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley said. "Communities across our state and the state as a whole are benefiting from the economic engine that is the USG and its 26 institutions."

The study found Georgia's public university system generated more than 163,000 full- and part-time jobs. Approximately 31 percent of these positions are on campus as USG employees and 69 percent are off-campus positions in the private or public sectors. The report also noted that on average, for each job created on campus, two off-campus jobs exist because of spending related to the institution.

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 Board of Regents, analyzed data collected between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.

For fall 2018, UNG's student enrollment totaled more than 19,722.

The full economic impact report is available on the USG web site.