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GSU has a $748 million economic impact on community

POSTED: September 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Georgia Southern University had an economic impact of nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars — $748 million — during the 2007-2008 fiscal year.

According to a study released by the university’s Bureau of Business Research and Development, GSU pumped $748,099,767 into the economies of nine southeast Georgia counties in 2007-2008.

Also, the report found Georgia Southern was responsible for 9,350 jobs in the region, which includes the counties of Bulloch, Bryan, Candler, Chatham, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Jenkins and Screven.

The new study shows GSU’s economic impact on the region increased by 9.6 percent from the previous fiscal year — up more than $28 million over 2006-07.

In compiling the annual report, the Bureau of Business Research and Development divided its analysis into four areas:

• The impact from the daily operations of the university measured by operating expenditures

• The impact from expenditures by students

• The impact of faculty and staff expenditures measured by salaries and payroll

• The impact from major construction projects

During the 2007-2008 fiscal year, Georgia Southern spent more than $136.5 million on non-personnel operating expenses. These expenses include everything from printing and publications to electricity, gasoline and office furniture.

Also, the university spent $104.9 million on salaries. That figure includes money for faculty, staff and support services, as well as payments for consultants, casual labor and other part-time employees.

Georgia Southern’s record-breaking number of students had a direct economic impact on the regional economy.

Enrollment during the fall 2007 semester set a new record of 16,841, an increase of more than 400 students from the previous year. Spring semester broke new ground as well at 15,864 students, an increase of more than 500 from the previous year.

University students spent an estimated $160.5 million in the region, not including fees for tuition and on-campus housing. The three largest categories of expenditures by students were off-campus housing ($48.6 million), entertainment ($38.3 million) and food ($28.2 million).

The only category to see an expenditure decrease from the previous year was construction projects. The university spent $80.6 million on construction in 2007-08, down from $101 million the year before. However, the 2006-07 peak in construction spending was unusually high due to the completion of several major projects.

The report states that, during the next several years, construction spending is expected to continue to trend down from its 2006-07 peak; however, construction spending on campus will still remain robust.

When operating expenditures, salaries and payroll, student expenditures and major construction projects are combined, and the sum is adjusted for 2008 dollars, the university was directly responsible for expenditures of $482,611,621 in the region.

The report notes that Georgia Southern University’s impact goes far beyond direct spending by the institution and the spending of students and faculty. For example, budget expenditures translate into the demand for goods and services for other businesses. In turn, these businesses hire additional staff and order additional supplies to meet the demands of the university.

To compensate for these additional expenditures, a multiplier of 1.55 is used to measure the university’s economic impact more accurately. This means that for every dollar directly spent by the university, the re-spending of that dollar in the region adds an extra 55 cents to the total economy.

Thus, the direct expenditures of $482.6 million resulted in a total economic impact of nearly $748.1 million.

The study also shows that Georgia Southern was directly responsible for 6,790 jobs during the last fiscal year.

Full-time employees at the university accounted for 1,781 of those jobs.

The 6,790 jobs are divided into four categories. Non-personnel operating expenses created 2,341 jobs, and expenditures of households receiving salaries and/or other payroll from the university created 614 jobs. Also, spending by students created 2,886 jobs, and construction expenditures created 949 jobs.

With record levels of students attending this fall, Georgia Southern’s future economic impact on the region is promising. This follows a record summer 2008 semester that featured the highest summer enrollment in school history.

In addition, Georgia Southern expects to set an all-time record for retention of current students this year.

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