Universities bring billions to local economies, study says

Georgia State poured over $1.5 billion into the local economy in 2010, according to a study from last year. Developed by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, the study analyzed the role colleges or universities play in shaping their surrounding community’s economy.

In 2010 the University System of Georgia directly accounted for 3.4 percent of all jobs in Georgia, in addition to the estimated 1.9 off campus jobs each school created, according to the study. The study also compared initial spending with output impact spending while estimating the total value and labor impact of University System schools.

The Georgia Institute of Technology had the greatest overall output impact into the economy at $2.1 billion, and the University of Georgia and Georgia State each contributed $2 billion and $1.5 billion respectively. The study estimated that Georgia State created 13,660 jobs in 2010.


Jeff Steinbook, the owner of Georgia State landmark Walter's, says that students make up approximately 20 percent of his overall sales. Photo by Chris Shattuck

Local businesses like Walter’s, an Atlanta athletic clothing and footwear staple located in the middle of Georgia State’s campus, say they appreciate the student business as part of the downtown community. “It’s important for businesses to maintain a good relationship with students because they make up the majority of downtown Atlanta,” Walter’s owner Jeff Steinbook, who estimates that Georgia State students make up to 20 percent of his total clientele, said.

Still, because customers come from around Atlanta to visit his store, Steinbook says that it is important to maintain a good relationship with all parts of the community. “The community is where our power of growth originally came from,” Steinbook said. “It’s important for us at Walter’s to connect with the local community on a personal level. We welcome everyone with open arms.”

Students like Darius Sutton, a senior and philosophy major who sometimes shops at Walter’s, agrees that students play a large part in the downtown economy.

“Walter’s is so close to campus and it’s easy for us [students] to spend money at these places,” Sutton said. “Students keep them in business by buying the latest shoes from them instead of going to other places,” said Cherie Johnson, a junior psychology major. “If they didn’t have good customer service, then students wouldn’t care to buy anything from them,” Johnson said.

Signal staff writer Alexis Smith helped co-write this piece.

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