VALDOSTA — How much does Lowndes County and the surrounding areas benefit economically from hosting Valdosta State University?
That is the question the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business set out to answer in a recent study commissioned by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia — The Economic Impact of University System of Georgia Institutions on their Regional Economies in Fiscal Year 2019, university officials said in a statement.
Dr. Jeffrey M. Humphreys, director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth, noted that VSU’s total economic impact on its host region — defined as Lowndes, Brooks, Lanier, Berrien, Cook and Echols counties — between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, was, in the simplest and broadest possible terms, nearly $383.5 million.
This includes the creation of 2,788 off-campus jobs in the public and private sectors, university officials said.
“At VSU, we understand our role as an important economic driver in Lowndes County and every other community we serve across our 41-county region,” said Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, university president. “It’s always exciting to see how what we are doing on campus and through our public/private partnerships — creating a campus culture focused on individual student success, providing students with expanded transformational and experiential learning opportunities, and increasing regional impact by serving as a resource and innovative leader — contributes to the area’s progress and prosperity.
“As the flagship institution of higher learning in South Georgia, when VSU has an opportunity to rise, South Georgia has an opportunity to rise. This is a team effort, and we are all in this together.”
Humphreys’ report provided additional information about the economic impact of spending by VSU as an institution of higher education, by VSU employees, and by VSU students.
Initial Spending — $319,798,790
According to the report, total initial spending accruing to VSU’s regional economy is the combination of three types of spending — spending by the university for personnel services, spending by the university for operating expenses and spending by the university’s students.
Spending originating from personnel services accounted for about 29.3% ($93,592,636) of initial spending during Fiscal Year 2019. Spending due to operating expenses accounted for about 17.8% ($56,843,268) of initial spending. Student personal expenditures accounted for about 53% ($169,362,886) of initial spending.
Total Output Impact — $383,486,865
According to the report, output impact was calculated for each category of initial spending, based on the impact of the first round of spending and the impacts generated by the re-spending of these amounts — the multiplier effect, university officials said.
Total output impacts are the most inclusive, largest measures of economic impact.
Of VSU’s total output impact, 83.4% ($319,798,790) was initial spending, while 16.6% ($63,688,075) was the induced/re-spending impact or multiplier effect, or the difference between output impact and initial spending.
The multiplier captures the regional economic repercussions of the flows of re-spending that take place throughout the region until the initial spending has completely leaked to other regions, university officials said.
On average, every dollar of initial spending generated an additional 20 cents for the economy of VSU’s host region during Fiscal Year 2019.
Total Value-Added Impact — $247,672,830
According to the report, value-added impacts, which exclude expenditures related to foreign and domestic trade, provide a much more accurate measure of the actual economic benefits flowing to businesses and households in VSU’s host region than the more inclusive output impacts.
VSU’s value-added impact equaled about 64.6% of its $383.5 million output impact, with foreign and domestic trade comprising the remaining 35.4% of the output impact during Fiscal Year 2019.
Labor Income Impact — $157,952,316
According to the report, VSU generated a labor impact on its host region of $157,952,316 in Fiscal Year 2019. The labor income received by Lowndes County and neighboring communities represents 63.8% of the value-added impact.
Employment Impact — 4,241
According to the report, the economic impact of hosting VSU is most easily understood in terms of the university’s impact on employment. VSU generated an employment impact of 4,241 jobs in Lowndes County and surrounding communities in Fiscal year 2019.
Approximately 34% (1,453) of these positions are on-campus jobs, while 66% (2,788) are off-campus jobs in the public or private sector that exist due to VSU-related spending.
In his report, Humphreys stated, “These economic impacts demonstrate that continued emphasis on colleges and universities as a pillar of the state’s economy translates into jobs, higher incomes, and greater production of goods and services.”
Visit https://www.usg.edu/news/release/university_system_of_georgia_state_economic_impact_grows_to_18.5_billion to learn more about the University System of Georgia’s collective economic impact on Georgia and view the full 27-page report.