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ABAC Economic Impact on South Georgia Climbs to $369,874,664

September 21, 2017

Enrollment, bachelor’s degrees, and housing all played major roles in the latest study which shows Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College had an economic impact of $369,874,664 on South Georgia during the 2016 fiscal year.

The University System of Georgia (USG) sanctioned the study, which was conducted by the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.  The USG had an overall economic impact of $16.8 billion on the state’s economy.

ABAC President David Bridges points to several factors for the 12.1 per cent or $40,029,938 in growth over the 2014 fiscal year report which showed ABAC had an economic impact of $329,844,725.

“The enrollment at ABAC has increased in three of the past five fall semesters at ABAC,” Bridges said.  “That kind of growth is not happening at other colleges and universities in South Georgia.

“The number of students pursuing bachelor’s degrees on our campus has jumped from 41 in 2008 to about 2,000 today.  That’s a significant increase.”

The ABAC Place and ABAC Lakeside housing complexes on the campus have also been at capacity with about 1,400 students living on campus.  Many ABAC students also rent houses and apartments in the community.

“All of our students are eating in the restaurants, buying from the stores, and contributing to the local economy,” Bridges said.  “Not to be dramatic but can you imagine what Tifton would be like without the 3,400 ABAC students plus all the ABAC employees and their families?”

Dr. Renata Elad, Dean of the Stafford School of Business at ABAC, analyzed the data from the USG report.  She said it’s no surprise that the ABAC economic footprint continues to grow in South Georgia.

“With 250 employees, ABAC stimulates the region’s labor income in an amount over $50 million,” Elad said.  “The multiplier effect of the employees at ABAC results in 886 other employees in the area.  This helps in no small way to keep the unemployment rate in South Georgia very low.”

Elad said ABAC student spending reached a record $41,096,923 during the 2016 fiscal year.

“These students are paying for food, gas, rent, and entertainment,” Elad said.  “Some of these students later become employees and eventually employers who further enhance the region’s economic growth and development.”

Bridges agrees.  One of his favorite themes in recent years has been that “life is better at ABAC.”  He applies that same mantra to Tifton and South Georgia.

“After they have lived in this community for four years going to ABAC, a lot of ABAC graduates are going to find jobs here, get married, have children, and contribute even more to the economy long term,” Bridges said. “Life is better at ABAC but life is also better in South Georgia.  ABAC graduates realize that and settle down in the community.”

Even with a $40 million increase in economic impact over two years ago, Bridges believes ABAC will have an even bigger impact in the future.

“Just look at the Destination Ag program at ABAC’s Georgia Museum of Agriculture,” Bridges said.  “That program alone brought 5,000 elementary school students to our community last year.

“This year, we’re predicting 7,000 students will participate in Destination Ag.  Add that number to what we’re doing at the ABAC golf course and with the various community events through the arts series and concerts, and you’ll see why ABAC is a major player in the economic activity of South Georgia.”
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