by Mike Wooten
The University of Georgia generated a record $7.6 billion for the state’s economy in 2022 through its teaching, research and public service, according to a new study. Growth in the number of degrees conferred at the undergraduate and graduate levels, increases in externally funded research activity, and an expansion of public service and outreach activities all contributed to the $200 million increase in UGA’s economic impact on the state.
“As this latest study highlights, the University of Georgia delivers a tremendous return on public investment, and our value to our home state continues to grow,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am proud of the work our university is doing to create opportunities across Georgia and strengthen our state’s economy.”
Among other economic drivers, the study assessed the impact of the university’s education and training programs, spending generated by out-of-state and international students, external funding for research and outreach programs, inventions and discoveries that led to new products and businesses, gifts from out-of-state supporters, and improved business and government practices stemming from university research and outreach programs.
Impact from teaching, research and service
Michael Adjemian, a professor in UGA’s department of agricultural and applied economics, has led the study for the past four years. He emphasized the $7.6 billion figure is a conservative estimate of the university’s economic impact that measures only the easily quantifiable functional impacts of its teaching, research and public service. According to Adjemian’s analysis, UGA’s economic impact increased across these three mission areas in 2022.
To determine the economic activity generated by the university’s teaching activities in the 2021-2022 academic year, the study calculated the increased earnings that degree holders can expect to receive based on their field of study. Two out of every three UGA graduates stay in Georgia, and their increased earnings contribute to the tax bases of the communities they call home. Out-of-state and international students generate economic impact through the spending they bring to Georgia, and these impacts were included in the report as well.
Externally funded grants and contracts for research are a rapidly growing component of the university’s economic activity. For the first time in its history, UGA surpassed a half-billion dollars in research and development spending in fiscal year 2022. According to a commonly used economic impact model known as IMPLAN, each dollar of funding from federal agencies and out-of-state foundations generates an economic impact of $2.12 as those funds are spent in Georgia on personnel and equipment.
Serving Georgia’s 159 counties
UGA contributes to the economic vitality and well-being of Georgia citizens and communities through its extensive public service and outreach efforts. The university’s eight Public Service and Outreach units help create jobs, develop leaders and address critical community challenges. UGA Cooperative Extension agents serve each of Georgia’s 159 counties, providing reliable, research-based information across the state through science-based programs and educational opportunities in agriculture, the environment, family well-being and 4-H youth development and leadership.
“As Georgia’s flagship, land- and sea-grant research university, we have a responsibility to help communities and citizens across the state thrive,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Through the contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni, UGA is addressing significant challenges and contributing to our state’s prosperity.”
The report also examines the economic contributions to the state associated with UGA’s operational expenses, a separate category that includes spending on labor, overhead and facilities in Athens and across the state. Major investments in campus facilities include the Interdisciplinary Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (I-STEM) Research Complex, a new Poultry Science Building and the modernization of research and instructional space on a section of campus called Science and Ag Hill.
When combined with the $7.6 billion economic impact generated by UGA’s teaching, research and service missions, the additional $3.3 billion that the university contributes to the state economy through its operational expenses sums to $10.9 billion in economic value in 2022.