Augusta Economy

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Colleges' impact on area tops $1 billion

Public schools plan to pitch in more to economy

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The two public universities in Augusta have a combined economic impact of $1 billion in the community, according to a new study from the University System of Georgia.

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The addition of a new dental school to the Georgia Health Sciences University campus and a plan to build enrollment will increase its impact, administrators say.   Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
The addition of a new dental school to the Georgia Health Sciences University campus and a plan to build enrollment will increase its impact, administrators say.

Between June 2009 and July 2010, Augusta State University had an impact of more than $187 million and Georgia Health Sciences University made an $832 million impression.

Those schools are part of the 35 institutions within the University System that had an overall impact of $12.6 billion in fiscal year 2010, according to the study conducted by The Selig Center for Economic Growth, part of the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business.

The study calculated the impacts by looking at spending by the institutions for salaries and fringe benefits, operating supplies and expenses; spending by students; and spending by the institutions on construction.

It found that because of that spending, ASU creates about 2,100 jobs and GHSU almost 9,400.

"This study demonstrates the significant, positive economic impact that the University System of Georgia has on the state," ASU President William A. Bloodworth Jr. said in a statement. "University System institutions, such as Augusta State, are major economic drivers on their local areas. The tangible impact includes jobs and output; however, higher education is vital to everyone. It is especially vital to this community -- to its prosperity and progress."

Dr. Gretchen B. Caughman, GHSU's provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, said the study no doubt shows the benefits of her institution but also left out some of its best qualities.

Since the Selig Center study examined only the impacts of the higher learning institutions, it didn't take into account GHSU's clinical component of its hospital and clinics.

The school and the hospital are intertwined in efforts and together have an economic impact of $2.1 billion, Caughman said.

"We are a unique animal among the USG (University System of Georgia) and among the nation," Caughman said. "Our clinics represent 67 percent of our budget and therefore ... of our economic impact, so that's a big part that's not accounted for in the model."

The Selig Center study also focused on the impact of institutions within the state, so it didn't take into account the students, patients and others who benefit outside of Augusta, like in Aiken and Edgefield counties.

Still, the study highlighted how just having an institution of higher learning in a community grows its economy and spending base.

It found that on average, every dollar of initial spending generates an additional 38 cents in the economy of the region where the institution is situated.

ASU assistant professor of finance Simon Medcalfe described it as a ripple effect.

"It's just proof of the structure of the economy and the emphasis on education that we have here," Medcalfe said. "When I as a faculty member go and spend money somewhere else in the local economy, that in some way goes and supplements other jobs.

When I go support the mall or local restaurants or go to a GreenJackets game, it helps support other jobs through my spending."

With ASU in the planning process of expanding its campus and student housing to Damascus Road, Medcalfe said, the impact of capital projects will only grow the economy more in the future.

The university conducted its own impact of expansion study, which was released in May, and determined the long-term benefits of growth.

Medcalfe said he found that adding 1,000 students by 2015 would create an additional $130 to $142 million, which is mostly a one-time impact because of new construction.

As the university plans to add 7,000 students by 2035, however, it would have an impact of between $464 million and $466 million.

As for expansion, Caughman said, that is also a priority for GHSU. In addition to building a new dental school, the university plans to grow enrollment by 25 percent in the next eight years.

This growth would mean building more clinics for them to work in and doubling research along with 200 more employees.

"That's why it's so important for us to grow (and) to continue to recruit the best and brightest," Caughman said.

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Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 06/17/11 - 07:36 am
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We ignore Dr. Azziz's

We ignore Dr. Azziz's comments at our own peril.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/17/11 - 07:43 am
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ASU is a seed that could

ASU is a seed that could change Augusta tremendously.

ECDanes
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ECDanes 06/17/11 - 12:07 pm
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No surprise about the

No surprise about the economic impact of GHSU, and the locals better wake up and smell the coffee. Dr Azziz was not insulting Augusta with his comments. He was simply telling the truth and apparently wants to do all he can to grow the university and its clinics. That's good for Augusta. Imagine taking over $2 billion annually out of the local economy. Imagine the thousands who will lose jobs, businesses that will close. The crippling effect it would have on Augusta. GHSU is just one part of the local economy, but it is a very big part. And if people here want to to stick their heads in the sand and go off in a huff because someone dared to tell the truth, that Augusta could be better and has much potential that is being unrealized, then go right ahead and do so. But when those billions of dollars start getting diverted to other cities like Athens, Atlanta, and Savannah, there will be plenty of people to say " I told you so"

ECDanes
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ECDanes 06/17/11 - 12:15 pm
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For better or worse, ASU is

For better or worse, ASU is mainly a commuter school serving locals and I really don't see that changing. GHSU draws students from all over the state, all over the country and the world. There are only 4 public research universities in Georgia. UGA, GA Tech, Georgia State, and GHSU here in Augusta. ASU is a good school, but its primary focus is serving higher education needs for people of the CSRA (mostly locals). ASU is severely hindered from becoming anything more than because it really cannot expand in its current location. Because of objections from The Summervillains, they cannot have on-campus housing like similar schools such as Valdosta State. And it's really not practical to build dorms 2 miles from campus and shuttle them to and fro (and that's not on-campus housing).. so it's just not going to be anything more than a commuter school. If ASU is able to add on-campus housing at some point then perhaps they can grow and become more than just a communter community university, but I don't see that happening based on who their neighbors are.

Sweet son
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Sweet son 06/17/11 - 12:38 pm
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EC, Dr. Axxix needs to wake

EC, Dr. Axxix needs to wake up and live in the current economy with the rest of us. Granted the money that ASU and MCG bring to the community is mind boggling but all of it will never go away as you said in imagining our community without it. The Universities will always need to grow but they will never grow at rates like in the past. I really don't always like to get after Dr. Azziz. Maybe he is working on the philisophy of asking for a lot more than he expects to receive. Maybe this is good???

socks99
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socks99 06/17/11 - 01:14 pm
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Of course the University

Of course the University System will produce studies attesting to its positive economic impact. Their latest line is a build-up to asking that state taxpayers 'up-the-ante' even in very harsh economic times.

While states around the region have reined-in spending on higher education, the Regents will tell the legislature that now is the time to 'leap-frog' ahead of our competitors by devoting a fresh gusher of money to the Regents.

No one, apparently, ever really vets the spending to measure its effectiveness. Replacing the dental school building with a newer model does NOT by itself improve productivity, improve the quality of care or provide a 'better' return for the taxpayers. Even if the sky was the limit when revenues were pouring in, it's clear that a new era of tighter money is dawning. Rather than elevate our higher education system to a new level, it's more likely the Regents are placing the entire system at much greater risk because they are borrowing billions and mortgaging the system to do so.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/17/11 - 02:58 pm
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EC Danes, ASU can certainly

EC Danes, ASU can certainly grow. It can use the Wrightsboro Rd area for offices, sports and dorms, but it can also stretch out from the in-town campus by hopping areas. The campus does not have to be contiguous. The College of Charleston used that technique.

Lots of big schools spread out over a city that way. One big problem ASU has is the residents living around the school if you know what I mean, but what's to say they couldn't build a dorm or something on down Walton Way? ASU can transform Augusta in a positive way.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 06/17/11 - 03:29 pm
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Riverman, true, it can expand

Riverman, true, it can expand by "hopping" areas in Augusta, but still it needs a main campus with on-campus housing.. anything short of that keeps it being primarily a commuter school. And we know that Summervillains will fight tooth and nail any expansion at the ASU main campus.. It's kind of hard if you get out of a class at 11:50 and then have a 12:05 class at a satellite campus on the other side of town.. its logistically a nightmare. Valdosta State is very similar to ASU.. but they have a huge advantage with on-campus housing.. and they are located in a historic residential area like Summerville. For those poo-pooing the economic impact of major universities.. you may want to visit the economic powerhouse called Silicon Valley, which was made possible because of the presence of prestigous research universities such as Stanford and Berkley. Ever heard of Google? It had its beginnings as a research project at Stanford. Closer to home there is the research triangle in the piedmont of North Carolina.. which Duke, UNC, and NCSU all made possible.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/17/11 - 03:52 pm
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Emery, (and it's exactly what

Emery, (and it's exactly what College of Charleston did) here's how you do it. You have a beautiful main campus such as exists now where the majority of the classes are held. You can build dormitories blocks away. Athletic facilities can be many miles away as is done now on Wrightsboro Rd.

Actually ASU has it better than CofC because the Wrightsboro Rd campus has ALL the athletic facilities. CofC has a baseball field clear across the Cooper River and a gym downtown away from the campus. They have dorms not connected to the school, scattered about. They have also bought existing historic houses near the campus for many functions.

Urban colleges are different, but they can have thriving resident student populations. It's like the city is the campus. There are great urban schools. It would help Augusta tremendously.

One more suggestion...go D-1 in basketball.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 06/17/11 - 04:06 pm
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Riverman, you just try

Riverman, you just try putting student housing within "blocks" of the main ASU campus and listen to the Summerville bunch scream bloody murder. Sure you can have sports facilities located miles from the main campus.. but the dorms need to be within walking distance of the main campus. And The College of Charleston is also pretty much a commuter school too. So if your student population primarily comes from the local surrounding area then having a scattered campus is fine, because most students live off campus anyway and drive to class. To make ASU the kind of economic engine that GHSU is, you have to attract students from well beyond the local area. I don't see ASU being able to do that

Riverman1
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Riverman1 06/17/11 - 04:15 pm
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Emerydan, yep, you are right

Emerydan, yep, you are right about the Summerville residents. I'm not sure it would work, but I'm hoping you could jump over Summerville.

CofC attracts students from all over. It has many residence halls scattered over that part of town. It is actually not that much bigger student wise than ASU, yet has a dramatic, beneficial effect on the city. It has 11,000 students and ASU 7,000. Anyway, something to think about.

Emerydan
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Emerydan 06/17/11 - 04:59 pm
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Well if ASU could start over

Well if ASU could start over and build a main campus somewhere in downtown or Harrisburg then there are a lot of possibilities. But I just don't see it ever being more than a commuter school. Summerville wants to make sure that's what it stays.

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