Emory Report
October 2, 2006
Volume 59, Number 6


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October 2, 2006
Higher eds bring $469M per year to state

BY ron sauder

The 19 colleges and universities in ARCHE pull in more than 5.7 million visitors per year—more than twice the projected number of the Georgia Aquarium—and the visitors spend an estimated $469 million, says a new economic impact study from the Atlanta Regional Consortium for Higher Education (ARCHE).

Even more impressively, direct spending by Atlanta-area schools powers more than $10 billion a year in economic benefit for Georgia businesses in sectors ranging from manufacturing to transportation to agriculture and mining – amounting to slightly more than three percent of the state economy.

“We have got here what other cities would die to have,” said Michael Gerber, president of ARCHE, in introducing the study findings at a press conference with state and regional leaders. “We have got here one of the greatest selling points in a global economy and market.”

More intangibly, but equally important, thanks to its colleges and universities Atlanta has the ability to compete nationally and internationally for businesses who seek educated workforces and a strong quality of life, said Craig Lesser, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Lesser said he began to understand the importance of higher education in a new way several years ago in an economic development trip to Boston, where Gerber’s briefing of the Georgian delegation made it clear that Atlanta matched up surprisingly well with one of America’s leading citadels of higher education in a number of categories.

“The metro Atlanta area is a university town,” Lesser said. “That was a revelation.” In economic development, “it’s all about jobs,” he said, citing international outreach efforts by Emory and Georgia Tech as important to the state’s strategy of promoting Georgia in Europe and Asia.

According to the ARCHE analysis, Emory University alone has an impact of $2.2 billion in the Atlanta region and $3.1 billion in the state as a whole—nearly one-third of the whole higher education sector in the region.

The ARCHE membership reaches as far afield as the University of Georgia in Athens, the University of West Georgia and Clayton State University. For a full list see www.atlantahighered.org.

Among the study’s other findings:
• Atlanta-area colleges and universities create about 130,000 jobs in Georgia.

• The ARCHE institutions boast more than 0.5 million alumni (522,540 persons) living in Georgia, earning more than $25 billion and paying about $2.4 billion in state and local taxes.

• The Atlanta metro area ranks sixth in the country in the number of college and university graduates receiving bachelor’s or more advanced degrees.