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State Reaps 15:1 Return On Investment In University System

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Public Higher Education Adds $23B Per Year to Georgia Economy, Task Force Finds

Atlanta — January 11, 2006

Georgia’s public colleges and universities have a combined economic impact of more than $23 billion a year on the state’s economy and are responsible for the creation of more than 130,000 jobs in Georgia, according to the final report of a task force appointed by Board of Regents Chair J. Timothy Shelnut to determine the University System of Georgia’s total impact in Georgia. The report was presented to the regents at their regular monthly meeting today.

“The University System of Georgia truly is Georgia’s best investment,” said Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough, who chaired the Total Impact Task Force. “What other appropriation of state funding gives you this kind of a return,” Clough added, noting that the $23.3 billion overall economic impact of the University System on the state during Fiscal Year 2004 was 15 times more than the state’s appropriation of $1.6 billion for higher education that year.

The task force determined that during FY04 more than 107,000 Georgians were employed because of the USG’s presence, either on campus or in off-campus public or private-sector positions that existed because of the University System. An additional 23,000 Georgians were employed in FY04 in jobs created by the University System’s work in commercializing new technologies and in jobs created or saved by the University System’s economic-outreach efforts.

“The state’s investment in the University System in FY04 led to the creation of more than 130,000 jobs in Georgia and a combined economic impact of $23.3 billion on the Georgia economy,” Shelnut said on receipt of the task force’s report. “I call that an excellent return on taxpayer dollars and a sound investment in Georgia’s future.”

Clough noted that the University System’s total impact on Georgia must be measured in more than numbers. For example, Georgia’s public colleges and universities are supplying qualified teachers for classrooms all over the state, health-care professionals for Georgia hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and medical offices, and law-enforcement officers for Georgia communities, he said. Clough also pointed out that each college and university contributes to the quality of community life by offering cultural and athletic events, facilities for public use, continuing-education courses, lifelong-learning opportunities such as Elder Hostel, and community services performed by students and faculty.

In addition, he noted that a wealth of valuable research is under way in Georgia’s public colleges and universities, including work on treating sickle-cell anemia; understanding Alzheimer’s Disease, preventing infectious diseases and engineering tools with which to diagnose and fight cancer.

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