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College makes ample fiscal impact
The ever-expanding College of Coastal Georgia has had an obvious impact, both socially and economically, on the community in recent years, and now the University System of Georgia has put a dollar value on it - about $84 million.

The Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business says the college generated at least that much in economic impact in the 2012 fiscal year. That fiscal year, running from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, was just the college's third year as a four-year baccalaureate institution.

Don Mathews, professor of economics at the college and director of the Coastal Georgia Center for Economic Analysis and Student Research, says the $84 million is an estimate of spending in the local area generated by the college.

"It includes spending by the college on wages and salaries to its employees, spending by the college on goods and services provided by local businesses and on capital projects," he said.

"It also includes the spending by the college's employees and students on local goods and services, as well as further rounds of spending by local workers and businesses who receive income from the spending by the college, its employees and its students."

In addition to the $84 million, the study says the college brought another $10.9 million in capital outlay to the community - the spending on buildings and other fixtures on its campus. That alone was responsible for more than 940 jobs in the area.

The study used general employment and budget data combined with a multiplier effect of how money directly related to the college enters the economic stream creates unrelated spending to calculate the economic impact, Mathews said.

"College of Coastal Georgia students buy local goods and services. Their spending is income to local businesses and local workers, who spend a portion of that income on local goods and services, generating income for another group of local businesses and workers, who spend a portion of that income on local goods and services, and on and on," he said. "The multiplier approach attempts to account for all those rounds of spending."

The strong results for fiscal 2012 cause Mathews to expect even better results for subsequent years, as the college continued to grow at a rapid pace. More important to him, as well as many others at the college, is the impact the institution has on more than items with a dollar sign.

"To me, the most significant impacts of the college on our local economy are the effects that are not measured in the UGA study, in particular the impact on the quality of our local labor force and the impact on the quality of our students' lives and the life of the community. Those impacts are huge and go far beyond dollars," he said.

Skip Mounts, dean of the college's School of Business and Public Affairs and an economics professor, concurs. He says that while the report confirms the college as a force for economic development in the Golden Isles, there's a much greater impact.

"This report does not do justice to the depth of the college's role in our community. As our programs develop and expand and our campus resources grow, such as acquisition of the Hawthorne Suites (motel) to convert to Coastal Place Apartments for student housing, a larger portion of the student body is now coming from outside of the region," Mounts said.

"This importation of dollars truly creates a multiplier process in jobs and opportunities that does not occur if we only served our five-county service region."

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

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