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UGA economic impact hits new high of $8.1 billion

By Mike Wooten/UGA Today

The University of Georgia’s economic impact on the state surged to a record $8.1 billion in 2023, according to a new study that measures the value of the university’s teaching, research and public service.

Growth in the number of alumni at the undergraduate and graduate levels, a thriving research and innovation ecosystem and award-winning public service and outreach programs all contributed to the record level of impact by Georgia’s flagship institution of higher education.

“The results of this study reflect the University of Georgia’s deep commitment, as a land-grant and sea-grant institution, to the state we call home,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “Our talented faculty, staff and students are proud to contribute to the economic vitality of Georgia and its citizens.”

The $8.1 billion figure is a conservative estimate of the university’s economic impact, according to Michael Adjemian, a professor in UGA’s department of agricultural and applied economics who has led the study for the past five years. He said the study measures only the easily quantifiable functions of UGA’s teaching, research and service.

The economic drivers used to determine UGA’s impact on the state’s economy included the university’s education and training programs; spending by out-of-state and international students; external funding for teaching, research and outreach programs; new products and businesses based on faculty inventions and discoveries; spending supported by out-of-state donors to the UGA Foundation; spending by out-of-state visitors to athletic events; and cost savings from improvements to business and government practices stemming from the university’s research and outreach programs.

“The most important factors that contributed to UGA’s growing economic impact were increases in the benefits that the university provides across each of its mission areas,” Adjemian said. “The impact of instruction grew by $219 million, research by $28 million and outreach by $161 million, year over year.”

More than 11,600 undergraduate, graduate and professional students earned UGA degrees in the 2022-2023 academic year. To determine the economic activity generated by the university’s teaching activities, the study calculated the increased lifetime earnings new degree holders who are expected to remain in the state will likely receive, based on their field of study. Two out of every three UGA alumni live and work in Georgia.

The study also examined tuition and other money brought into Georgia by out-of-state and international students and external grant funding related to teaching programs. The report estimated the economic impact of UGA’s teaching mission was $5.9 billion last year.

“The University of Georgia continues to build upon its well-earned reputation as one of the nation’s top public universities, and the demand for a UGA education has never been greater,” said S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “UGA is preparing a new generation of leaders to take on critical challenges across Georgia and around the world.”

Fueled by significant increases in sponsored research funding from federal agencies, the University of Georgia surpassed a half-billion dollars in research and development spending in fiscal year 2022 for the first time in its history. According to a commonly used economic impact model known as IMPLAN, each dollar of research funding from federal agencies and out-of-state foundations generates an economic impact of $2.13 as those funds are spent in Georgia on personnel and equipment and stimulate follow-on rounds of expenditures. The study estimated the overall impact of the university’s research mission on the state’s economy was $957 million last year.

Through its statewide public service and outreach activities and UGA Extension, the university contributes to the economic vitality and well-being of Georgia citizens and communities by creating jobs, developing leaders and helping communities solve critical local challenges. These programs generated an economic impact of $1.2 billion last year, according to the study. For example, UGA’s Archway Partnership, which received the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ highest award for public service, helped Georgia communities secure more than $10.6 million in grants for UGA-assisted projects.

For the first time this year, the study calculated the economic impact of out-of-state visitors to select UGA athletic events. The 107,000 tickets sold to out-of-state fans for the most recent football, basketball (men’s and women’s), gymnastics and baseball seasons generated $48.8 million in spending on food, lodging and subsequent purchases by restaurant and hotel staff in addition to ticket revenues.

Spending to support the University of Georgia’s operations—including labor, overhead and capital projects—contributed an additional $3 billion in 2023, bringing the combined economic value of UGA to the state’s economy to $11.2 billion.

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