Volume 77
Number 2

Making a Splash

Invincible Ink

Where the Heart Is

Commencement 2001

Emory University

Association of Emory Alumni

Current News and Events

Emory Report



Sports Updates




















































SOMEWHERE IN ATLANTA RIGHT NOW, it’s a safe bet an Emory student is spending a dollar on a Coke. Or twelve dollars on a pizza. Or fifty on a new pair of jeans.

Maybe a construction worker who’s spent the day hanging sheetrock in Emory’s new performing arts center is writing his monthly mortgage check or taking his family out to dinner.

And it’s possible that a radiologist from Emory Hospital is out shopping for a new compact disc player, while the wife of a patient who traveled from Macon for X-rays orders room service in her hotel.

All these dollars fall, like the proverbial pebble, into the pool of money that makes up Atlanta’s base economy, causing a ripple effect that–when its combined force strikes shore–is finally estimated at a staggering $3.4 billion a year.

Although most people probably don’t consider Emory University a business in league with major corporations like Delta Air Lines or BellSouth, a newly compiled set of eyebrow-raising statistics suggests that perhaps they should. According to the most recent examination of Emory’s overall economic impact on metro Atlanta, the University’s annual contribution is akin to holding a Summer Olympic Games every eighteen months.

In 1999 alone, the University spent $1.33 billion in metro Atlanta on payroll, purchases, and construction. Spending by students, visitors, and retirees bumped this direct spending total up to $1.5 billion. Those dollars, in turn, found their way into employees’ paychecks in all manner of occupations and industries, generating indirect spending to the tune of nearly $2 billion. In their latest study, University economists used special multiplier formulas, provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, to calculate that for every dollar Emory spends, $1.24 is pumped indirectly into Atlanta’s economy. When compared to similar studies conducted five and ten years ago, that figure has nearly doubled in the last decade, and is expected to climb even higher.

“I don’t think most people understand the magnitude of Emory’s operation,” says John L. Temple, executive vice president and chief operating officer, who led his staff in conducting the 1999 economic impact study. “We are a university, but we are also a large business, from an economic perspective. We should be thought of in comparable terms.”

The study has been conducted regularly to help make the region’s political and business leaders aware of Emory’s economic presence. “We receive funding support from them, so this is just to help them understand the benefits of what Emory contributes to the economy,” Temple says.

Among the most notable findings: The study revealed that Emory is the third-largest employer in metro Atlanta, ranking below only Delta and BellSouth. With a full-time workforce of nearly nineteen thousand, Emory is the largest employer in DeKalb County and spent $904.6 million on payroll and benefits in 1999. In addition, more than fourteen hundred construction workers owed their jobs to Emory projects in 1999, and general University spending created another 26,447 jobs for local businesses. All in all, Emory is responsible, directly and indirectly, for about one out of every fifty of Atlanta’s 2.2 million jobs.

“That probably comes as a surprise to most people,” Temple says. “People think of us in terms of our student enrollment. If you asked people on the street which area university they think has the largest economic impact, I can bet that the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech would be put ahead of Emory, because of their larger student enrollment.”

What sets Emory apart? A major difference is Emory’s Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center, which includes Emory Healthcare system’s six medical operating divisions as well as four distinct educational and research centers. The Health Sciences Center accounts for the lion’s share–about 75 percent–of Emory’s total expenditures and some fourteen thousand employees, says Ronnie Jowers, vice president for health affairs.

Emory Healthcare has earned a place among the nation’s top health care systems, with Emory Hospital ranking in eight of seventeen medical specialties in U.S. News & World Report’s July 2000 listing of best hospitals. “If you were to talk to somebody in south Georgia, South Carolina, or Tennessee, and say to them that you are going to Emory, I believe many of those people would think that means you are going for health care services,” Jowers speculated. “I think Emory is probably best known in the Southeast for health care, and that in itself drives a lot of interest from students, doctors, researchers, and patients.”

In 1999, forty-two thousand patients sought their hospital care at Emory hospitals, and patients made one million visits to Emory’s hospitals, clinics, and emergency rooms. The total of Emory’s care through its own facilities and those of its three affiliate institutions amounted to more than four hundred thousand emergency room visits, 2.4 million outpatient visits, and 114,000 admissions.

“Each of these factors has a multiplier, how many times that dollar is spent again and again,” Jowers says. “A patient in the hospital has a pretty good sized multiplier. They may have visitors who come, eat out, and stay in hotels. And we have a number of construction projects in the works. The construction dollar also has a significant multiplier effect.”

And, as anyone on a leisurely stroll through Emory’s campus can see, construction dollars are being spent in spades–by the hundreds of millions. The University is expanding through a $600 million construction boom aimed at improving existing facilities and creating new ones. During the next few years, under the guidance of the campus master plan, eight major buildings are or will be in construction–a science classroom and laboratory facility, a new home for the nursing school, a medical research building, a cancer institute, a hospital redevelopment project, an arts center on the Oxford campus and one on the Atlanta campus, and student housing and recreational facilities. In addition to new construction, teaching spaces are being updated and enhanced throughout the campus.

Ironically, the 1999 economic impact study was conducted when actual construction spending was in a relative lull: just $62 million. That figure represents 17 percent of the $362 million spent in DeKalb County that year for individual, business, and industry construction, and indirectly those projects yielded another $142.6 million to benefit Atlanta’s economy. Between 2000 and 2005, Emory’s construction costs are projected to total $613.2 million. And, of Emory’s total expenditures, more than 80 percent is spent in metro Atlanta, a considerable boon to the city, says Edith C. Murphree, associate vice president for administration. “Once those dollars are spent in the Atlanta area, they create a ripple effect in the Atlanta economy so that the total impact actually multiplies,” she explained.

Of course, Jowers pointed out, “You have to fill all these research buildings up with top quality scientists.” The Health Sciences Center attracts thousands of highly regarded experts and millions of dollars in funding to Atlanta through its intensive research agenda. In 1999, Emory received $217 million in research funding. Of that figure, $204 million went to the health sciences center. The School of Medicine is ranked nineteenth among medical schools for its level of research funding; the Rollins School of Public Health is among the top ten public health schools. Scientists at Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center are pioneering vaccines for AIDS and malaria and new treatments for vision loss and cardiovascular disease. These projects bring renowned researchers and faculty members from all over the world each year, says Temple, and boost Emory’s reputation nationally and internationally. “Research is growing faster than ever before,” he says.

In addition to Emory’s high-powered health sciences center, its other undergraduate and graduate programs pack a considerable economic punch. Nearly eleven thousand full-time students spent $71.9 million in the local economy in 1999 on housing, food, clothing, and the like. Students living off campus spent nearly $22 million on housing alone. Emory students also spend $25 million at metro area 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.

Visitors, including parents, friends, scholars, and retirees, play a role, too. An estimated 153,000 Emory visitors spent at least one night in Atlanta in 1999, with a total impact of $147.8 million–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, indirectly leading to another $29.2 million in total impact on the economy.

But Emory’s reach into the surrounding community can’t be measured in dollars alone. The University benefits Atlanta through volunteer partnerships with a range of organizations that help underserved populations, in areas from health care and housing to child advocacy and counseling. Students in the Candler School of Theology serve throughout metro Atlanta as part of a required contextual education program. By the time they graduate, 50 percent of Emory undergraduates have volunteered in the community, and faculty in all manner of disciplines provide volunteer services to those who might otherwise be unable to afford, for instance, legal aid or health care. And Emory offers a rich array of cultural opportunities each year, many of which are free to the public.

“Emory faculty, staff, and students are very much involved in an impressive number of community outreach programs and activities in many different areas,” says Betty Willis, associate vice president for governmental and community affairs. “If you wanted to quantify the beneficial aspects to the community in economic terms, it would be quite substantial. It has a domino effect.”



© 2001 Emory University