Georgia Tech Releases Economic Impact Study

Recommendations include more flexibility for Georgia research universities

An economic impact study sponsored by ten of Georgia's top companies finds that greater flexibility within Georgia higher education would increase the economic impact and competitiveness of Georgia Tech and the state's other public research universities.

The study, conducted by the Huron Consulting Group, shows Georgia Tech provides a $3.9 billion impact within the state of Georgia and supports directly or indirectly the creation of approximately 44,400 jobs to the state. Based on the annual funding the state provides Georgia Tech, the return on investment through economic impact is almost $15 for every state dollar. In addition, Georgia Tech graduates more engineers than any other university in the nation and generates hundreds of invention discoveries annually, both of which provide fuel for the economy of the future.

The study also looks to the dramatic changes occurring in the economic landscape and makes several recommendations to keep Georgia Tech and the state's other public research universities competitive in today's fast-paced and rapidly changing global economy. The recommendations call for continued support for innovation based on initiatives to compete with the growing investment being made in other states and nations. Further, recommendations are made to improve flexibility in decision making and operations and enhance control of revenues within a new system for accountability.

"This study shows the dramatic impact Georgia Tech has on the state's economy and highlights the growing importance innovation will have in the economy of the future," said Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough. "It also sends a message that if we are to be successful in the future, the way we do business needs to allow for greater flexibility, agility and responsiveness. The present policies under which Georgia Tech and its sister public research universities operate should be re-assessed, working with the University System of Georgia and the state to bring them into alignment with the demands of the 21st century."

Competition for technology and innovation continues to get fiercer as countries such as India, Ireland, and China move rapidly to compete with the United States. To keep its competitive edge, the United States must adapt to a global environment in which both the largest technology markets and the largest technological workforces are in Asia.

"The United States is at a crossroads where we need to compete in a rapidly changing global economy," said BellSouth Chairman and CEO Duane Ackerman, who is also the co-chair of the Council on Competitiveness. "The race for innovation is extremely competitive. It will take the world's best-trained and most creative technological work force for the United States to maintain its position as the world's innovation leader. If talent is not available here, U.S. and foreign companies will seek it elsewhere."

The report reviews actions taken by several other states to maneuver their research universities successfully to compete in the global race for innovation and technology transfer. Michigan, Virginia, Colorado, Florida and Texas are allowing their institutions more flexibility to meet the challenges they face in today's global economy.

"Georgia Tech has provided Southern Company, the State of Georgia, and the Southeast with a great resource for innovation, qualified graduates, and research," said Southern Company CEO David Ratcliffe. "It is in our best interest to keep Georgia Tech competitive and help all our state research universities achieve the flexibility they need to compete with their peers across the world. Georgia Tech's success in partnering with the private sector provides a competitive advantage to them and the state."

The study also highlights expected outcomes and benefits that these changes would have if implemented. Among them are more high-end jobs for the city of Atlanta and state of Georgia, improved access to intellectual capital, development of the workforce of the future, expansion of a vibrant research enterprise, creation of new private-public partnerships, expansion of infrastructure for economic growth, and savings in money and time that can be allocated elsewhere.

Southern Company, BellSouth, Bank of America, C.B. Richard Ellis, Earthlink, Imlay Foundation, Internet Security Systems, Moseley-Kelly-French Corporation, Scientific Atlanta, Waffle House, The University Financing Foundation and the Georgia Tech Foundation sponsored the Economic Impact Study.

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the nation's premiere research universities. Ranked ninth among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities, Georgia Tech educates more than 17,000 students every year through its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech maintains a diverse campus and is among the nation's top producers of women and African-American engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute. During the 2004-2005 academic year, Georgia Tech reached $357 million in new research award funding. The Institute also maintains an international presence with campuses in France and Singapore and partnerships throughout the world