The University of Georgia’s annual economic impact on our state is $5.25 billion, an astounding figure that underscores this institution’s vital role in keeping Georgia competitive in today’s knowledge economy.
Holders of bachelors and graduate degrees have significantly higher lifetime earnings than individuals who hold a high school diploma alone, which is why a large portion of UGA’s economic impact stems from our degree programs. To calculate the economic impact of the instruction that our faculty members provide, economist Jeffrey Dorfman took data on the increase in lifetime earnings that accrues from each specific degree and major offered by UGA and multiplied that figure by the number of graduates in those majors in the 2015-2016 academic year. UGA awarded nearly 10,000 bachelor’s, master’s and professional degrees last year, and a total of 195,000 UGA alumni live and work in Georgia’s 159 counties—where they play a critical role in government, non-profits and businesses of all sizes.
To celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni in the business world, the UGA Alumni Association hosts the annual Bulldog 100 celebration, which honors the fastest growing business owned or operated by UGA alumni. This year’s Bulldog 100 includes honorees in fields ranging from health and medicine to finance, retail and engineering, and the winner will be announced this Saturday in Atlanta. Alumni of each of the University’s schools and colleges can be found among the Bulldog 100, and our recently launched campus-wide Entrepreneurship Program will give students an advanced set of skills and knowledge that will help them successfully launch and grow businesses.
The University’s thriving research enterprise, which has grown dramatically in recent years, also plays a key role in Georgia’s economic vitality. According to the commonly used economic impact modeling software known as IMPLAN, each dollar of external research funding, which primarily comes from federal agencies and private foundations, generates a $2.01 economic impact as those funds are spent in the local economy on equipment and personnel. Our research expenditures surged 14 percent in the past year alone, creating a vast ripple of economic activity across our state.
Research grants also lay the foundation for discoveries that improve health, ensure safe food and water, promote cyber, domestic and global security, and build vital and prosperous communities. More than 600 commercial products derived from UGA research—ranging from vaccines to crop varieties and cybersecurity software—have reached the marketplace, and UGA earned $7.6 million in licensing revenue in the past fiscal year alone. UGA research has led to the formation of nearly 150 companies, including Synageva BioPharma, a graduate of UGA’s Innovation Gateway incubator that was recently acquired for $8.4 billion by a global biopharmaceutical company.
The third major component of our economic impact stems from our public service and outreach mission. Units such as our Small Business Development Center, Carl Vinson Institute of Government and Marine Extension help businesses and communities prosper by bringing them evidence-based advice and expertise. In the past fiscal year alone, our 17 Small Business Development Center offices across Georgia served 4,267 people and helped launch more than 350 new businesses. SBDC-assisted business created more than 3,000 jobs during that period, as well.
To increase our economic impact on Georgia even further, we’re launching an outreach campaign known as StartUp Georgia that invites businesses large and small, communities, and individuals to connect with the University of Georgia. Our degree programs change the lives of individuals and foster prosperity across the state, our research advances knowledge and innovation, and our service mission reflects our enduring commitment to our state.
The University of Georgia is proud of its $5.25 billion annual economic impact but committed to doing more. Let’s get started.