The University System of Georgia delivered an economic impact of $18.5 billion to the state during fiscal year 2019 while generating 157,770 jobs, system Chancellor Steve Wrigley reported this week.

That represents a 4.5% increase over the previous fiscal year. The state’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

Locally, Georgia Highlands College is a member of the University System of Georgia and its economic impact was up 2.5% over FY 2018, according to the report.

Of the more than $18 billion reported by the USG as a whole, Georgia Highlands College’s contribution was $181,400,770. This represents an increase of over $4 million when compared to the FY 2018 report and an increase of $8 million from the FY 2017 report.

“GHC continuously works to be an integral part of the communities we serve, and we are thankful for the partnerships and support we receive in return,” GHC President Don Green said. “For our fiscal year 2015 report, GHC had an economic impact of $132 million, and now, our fiscal year 2019 report shows we have increased that number by nearly $50 million. Our current impact of over $181 million and our year-after-year development is a trend that fosters growth in Floyd County’s economy and others throughout Northwest Georgia.”

In addition to the main campus in Rome, GHC has locations in Cartersville, Marietta, Dallas and Douglasville.

According to the USG report, on average, a Class of 2019 graduate is predicted to earn $888,563 more over the course of their career as a result of their degree from a USG institution.

Additionally, the annual economic impact study showed that each dollar spent by USG institutions generates an additional 47 cents for the regional economy.

“It has always been important at GHC that we focus on the whole student — which includes helping our students with financial planning, adopting proven techniques and strategies that promote success and being prepared on a career pathway toward a degree leading to as little debt as possible after graduating,” Green said. “The more we can help students develop and grow at GHC, the greater the positive impact GHC’s graduates will have in our communities in the future.”

Wrigley said USG and its 26 institutions play a critically important role in local economies all across Georgia.

“At the same time … USG remains committed to improving on the state’s investment in higher education and carrying out our ultimate mission to prepare students for life and work with a college degree,” he said.

Of the jobs generated by USG during fiscal 2019, 33% are on campus, while the remaining 67% are located within institutions’ home communities. On average, each on-campus job led to the creation of two additional off-campus jobs as a result of spending by the institution.

The 2019 study also showed $12.6 billion of the $18.5 billion in economic impact came from direct spending by institutions, while $5.9 billion came from additional spending within their local communities.

The annual study is conducted by Jeff Humphreys, director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth at UGA’s Terry College of Business.

This year, Humphreys and Alexandra Hill of the Selig Center also conducted a companion study titled “Lifetime Earnings for University System of Georgia Class of 2019.”

The center’s research shows lifetime earnings increase substantially with each step up in postsecondary educational attainment, a finding that holds true for both Georgia and the nation as a whole.

Dave Williams with Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.

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