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October 23, 2000

Emory's economic impact tops
$3.4 billion

By Jan Gleason

In addition to its academic achievements, Emory has a significant economic impact on Atlanta. The University is fueling the economic growth of metro Atlanta with an annual contribution of $3.4 billion to the economy—which is like having a Summer Olympics every 18 months in Atlanta.

According to Metro Atlanta Chamber estimates, that annual impact nearly matches the impact of all major sporting events held in Atlanta during a four-year period (1999-2003), including the NFL Super Bowl XXXIV, the Atlanta Braves and dozens of other tournaments and championships. Emory’s "not-for-profit" status belies its striking contributions as an engine of growth for Atlanta jobs and businesses.

The University spent $1.33 billion in metro Atlanta in 1999 on payroll, direct purchases and construction. Spending by students, visitors and retirees, on everything from groceries and clothes to movie tickets, raised that figure to $1.5 billion. The ripple effect of that spending, as employees in those industries earned paychecks and made their own purchases, increases the economic impact of Emory dollars to nearly $3.4 billion.

Top Employer
With a full-time work force of nearly 19,000, Emory is the third-largest employer in metro Atlanta behind Delta Air Lines and BellSouth. Emory has consistently been the largest employer in DeKalb County, and the University's payroll and benefits in 1999 totaled $904.6 million. More than 1,400 construction workers owed their jobs in 1999 to Emory projects that ranged from a vaccine research center to a nursing school to a medical research building.

Spending by the University, its faculty, students, visitors and retirees generates another 26,447 jobs for local businesses. For every direct Emory employee, there’s at least one other Atlantan putting dinner on the table with salary dollars that started at Emory. The indirect employment figure means that more than 45,000 Atlanta workers depend on Emory directly and indirectly for employment–equivalent to a city the size of Valdosta, Ga. Another way to think of it is that, with 2.2 million jobs in the city, Emory creates one out of every 50 jobs in Atlanta.

Emory is in the middle of a $600 million construction boom aimed at improving existing facilities and creating several new ones. Over the next several years, eight major buildings will be in construction, including a science classroom/laboratory facility, a new nursing school, a medical research building, a cancer institute, a hospital redevelopment project, an arts center on the Oxford campus and one on the main campus, and student housing/recreational facilities.

In 1999, Emory spent $62.6 million on construction projects, as many of the upcoming projects were in the planning/development stage. The figure represents 17 percent of the $362 million spent in DeKalb County for individual, business and industry construction in the same period. Indirectly, these projects yielded another $142.6 million to benefit Atlanta's economy.

Emory’s nearly 11,000 full-time undergraduate and graduate students spent $71.9 million in the local economy last year on such things as housing, food, clothing and transportation. For example, students living off-campus spent nearly $22 million on housing alone. In addition, students spent $25 million at grocery stores and restaurants and more than $10.6 million on clothing. As this money was spent, it generated another $64.3 million in economic activity.

The direct and indirect impact of Emory student spending in Atlanta, then, totals $136.3 million-––a healthy financial base for landlords, restaurateurs and retailers across the city.

Visitors and Retirees
Each year, thousands of parents, friends, scholars, and hospital patients and visitors come to Atlanta because of Emory. In fact, an estimated 153,000 Emory visitors spent at least one night in Atlanta in 1999. These overnight visitors stayed a total of 299,391 days and spent $69.3 million on lodging, food and other expenses. This money indirectly led to another $78.5 million in economic activity.

The total economic impact of visitors who come to Atlanta because of Emory, $147.8 million, is roughly equal to the impact the city would receive from hosting three Major League Baseball All-Star games each year. Retirees of Emory spent $31.4 million, and those dollars indirectly led to another $29.2 million of impact on the economy.

Commitment to Health
In 1999, nearly 69,000 patients spent an average of seven days in an Emory hospital. Additionally, Atlantans made more than one million patient visits to Emory hospitals and clinics.

Emory has longstanding relationships with Grady Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston in patient care, teaching and research. Collectively, the system provides $9.3 million in charity care annually.

About the Study
This study was conducted by staff in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. The Emory data consist of fiscal year 1999 expenditures and employment by all academic units of Emory University; Emory Healthcare (including Emory Hospital, Emory Clinic, Crawford Long, Emory Children’s Center and Wesley Woods Center). Direct expenditures were taken from records of actual payments made to vendors with zip codes located in the Atlanta metropolitan statistical area. A booklet on Emory’s economic impact will be available in mid-November by calling


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