University System of Georgia schools make huge impact - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

University System of Georgia schools make huge impact

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - In the middle of a deep recession, education may be one of the main sectors to pull Georgia through. A new study finds the economic impact from the state's University System reaches well into the billions.

That includes everything from student spending to salaries for employees and that impact is growing.  It trickles down to local businesses.  

Day or night you can always find Gordon Hall behind the counter or the grill. "June 8th will be 21 years," said Hall.

He's the long-time face behind Shabazz Fish Supreme near Albany State University. "Been some ups and downs but we've made it so far," said Hall. He's made it with some help from ASU students and staff. Hall can always tell when the Fall and Spring semesters pop up.

"Kids come in with new money. They are spending money and that has a great impact at that time," said Hall.

"It's actually much more than you would imagine," said Darton Assistant Professor of Economics Aaron Johnson.

Across the state, the University System of Georgia's 35 institutions had a $12.1 billion impact on the economy last year. Take Darton College for example. "There was a $111 million impact. That doesn't include the jobs that are created here like me as an instructor and all the part-time jobs but also all the purchases that we make because we're here," said Johnson.

Darton's impact may grow with new projects taking place on campus. "The student housing has been a huge project funded by the Darton Foundation and it's bringing construction jobs. We're building a new student center," said Johnson.

Combine that with Albany State University's impact on the economy and you'll get a huge amount. "Together we contribute $258 million," said Johnson.

The schools supply thousands of full and part-time jobs and students like Costrellius Barber spending money on and around campus make a difference. "All the local restaurants, go the movies, bowling.  I support the mall and different areas," said Barber.

Business owners like Hall appreciate it. It just takes one student walking through the door. "I just depend on word of mouth to get the business to me, and once I get a customer, that customer tells someone else and it just becomes like a feeder program to me," said Hall.

And something that simple adds up to billions in the state.

Last year, the University System provided 2.6 percent of the jobs in the state. That adds up to more than 108,000 full and part time jobs.

The study by the Selig Center for Economic Growth found that Valdosta State University had a $326-million economic impact on that area.

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