GPC economic impact approaches billion mark

COVINGTON -- Georgia Perimeter College's economic impact on its region climbed to almost $713 million in fiscal 2011, according to a newly released report.

The 2011 level reflects an increase of more than 3 percent more than the economic impact recorded for GPC in fiscal 2010.

The study examined the initial spending by each of the University System of Georgia's 35 institutions, the spending by each institution's students and the respending, or the multiplier effect of the dollars spent again in the region. It also examines each college's role in generating jobs in its region, not just on campus, but in businesses throughout its communities.

It was produced by the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business and was commissioned by Georgia's Intellectual Capital Partnership Program.

According to the study, GPC generated 6,762 jobs in 2011, and the growth in the college's overall economic impact outpaced the increase in the college's initial spending.

The findings of the report serve as a reminder of GPC's integral role in the communities it serves, said Rob Watts, interim president of GPC.

"Our mission is to provide access to a high quality, affordable college education," Watts said. "But in carrying out that mission, we also are a powerful force in the region's economy."

Watts said recent spending cuts and a reduction in force at GPC, which were made to balance the college's budget, will help to preserve the college's financial health and maintain its academic mission so it can continue serving the metro Atlanta region, he said.

Earlier this year, GPC announced that it reduced its staff by 282 out of 3,110 employees college-wide, including 215 full-time employees, 67 part-time employees and 26 employees at the Newton campus. It made cuts at all of its locations, including its campuses in Clarkston, Decatur, Newton, Northlake, Dunwoody and Alpharetta, as well as its online program.

GPC is the third largest institution in the University System of Georgia, serving nearly 27,000 students on its campuses, as well as several sites in metro Atlanta, including partnerships at the Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers and the Newton College & Career Academy in Covington.

Together, the economic impact on the institutions in the USG communities reached $13.2 billion in fiscal 2011, a level that represents a 5 percent increase from the previous year. The study also showed that the university system generated nearly 132,000 jobs in Georgia, meaning that one job out of every 29 in the state exists because of the university system.