Every summer, I am reminded just how important Georgia Southern has become to Statesboro and the prosperity of its full time residents. Things clearly slow down here in the summer months, and business owners will admit that it can be a struggle.
When fall semester begins however, things really change, and the impact for Statesboro is a dramatic one. With that sentiment in mind on the eve of another fall semester, I decided to try and put Georgia Southern's economic impact into perspective. Where does GSU rank among our state's universities and colleges? Are other cities as affected by their major colleges and universities as we are?
There are 37 academic institutions within the university system of Georgia. Of that 37, there are a total of 26 "four year" institutions excluding the Medical College of Georgia which is a unique entity within the system.
Based on 2009 attendance figures, Georgia Southern (19,000) ranks fifth overall in attendance behind the University of Georgia (34,000), Georgia State University (27,000), Kennesaw State University (21,000), and Georgia Tech (20,000).
This is where it gets interesting. There are economic impact figures that have been issued for each institution. By taking the overall estimated economic impact and dividing it by the number of students attending, a "per student" impact number can be derived.
Let's look at some numbers. The University of Georgia's economic impact is $2 billion or $58,823 per student. Georgia Tech's is also $2 billion or $100,000 per student. Georgia State's overall impact is estimated to be $1 billion or $37,037 per student. Guess What? Georgia Southern's estimate is $700 million or $36,842 per student which is commensurate with Georgia State.
That's right, Georgia Southern is the fifth largest institution, with the fourth largest impact per student. Kennesamw State's economic impact is $27,809 per student - much less than Georgia Southern's. Neighboring Armstrong Atlantic in Savannah has an impact of $27,400 per student.
What makes this even more interesting is that all of the schools that I mentioned are in large metropolitan areas. Obviously, Georgia Southern is not. Further, the four year institutions in Albany, Augusta, Carrollton, Macon, Marietta, and Valdosta demonstrate less of an economic impact per student than Georgia Southern.
That is why when the vast majority of the students return next week, I will relish the crowded roads, long lines at the grocery store, and the general obnoxiousness that comes with being an 18 to 22 year old living away from home. Each summer is a reminder to me of just how lucky we are to have Georgia Southern.
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org