Columbus State University’s economic impact on the local area is approaching a quarter of a billion dollars, according to a study of Georgia’s universities released Wednesday.
The findings, compiled by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia, show CSU pumping more than $247 million into the area. That includes salaries for the 740 employees on its University Avenue and downtown RiverPark campuses, as well as 1,880 jobs created through the school’s spending in the community.
CSU President Tim Mescon, in a statement, said the annual study is useful to get a feel for the monetary value the university brings to the city. But he said it goes beyond that.
“We also use this as an opportunity to talk about some of those contributions that are harder to measure, such as the impact our RiverPark campus has had on uptown Columbus, the quality of life enhancements from our fine and performing arts programs, and the lasting impact that is delivered by CSU-trained teachers, nurses, public safety personnel, business people and leaders,” he said.
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The study pegs CSU spending at about $58 million in personal services, more than $42 million in operating expenses, and roughly $97 million dropped locally by students. A “multiplier” calculation used by the Selig Center pushes the total impact to $247 million.
The same study a year ago put CSU’s impact at nearly $236 million. However, it’s more dramatic compared to the 2000-2001 fiscal year. At that time, the school’s local economic impact was just over $146 million, with it generating 2,205 jobs on and off campus.
The University System of Georgia, with 31 universities and colleges, had an overall impact of $14.1 billion in the last fiscal year, the study said. That accounted for more than 139,000 jobs, both full- and part-time.
The analysis was performed by Jeff Humphreys, director of the Selig Center, which is part of UGA’s Terry College of Business. He noted that the Great Recession did not stop growth by the state’s schools because of the continuous demand for higher education.