Viewpoint: Schools are big business

We know Georgia's outstanding public colleges and universities improve our economy by graduating thousands of students each year who stay in the state to start careers. But they also have a growing impact on our economy simply by being part of communities like Albany and Valdosta.

An annual survey shows the University System had a record $14.1 billion in direct and indirect spending in the fiscal year that just ended.

In our area, Valdosta State had the largest economic impact of nearly $367 million. Albany State was next at $156 million.

We should give special recognition to Darton State College. Its enrollment growth and new four-year degrees helped push its impact on Albany's economy up a whopping 12% to $135 million.

All of south Georgia's colleges are important parts of the cities where they're located.

They deserve the continued support of those communities so their impacts will continue to grow.