Metro Colleges Impact Georgia and Atlanta Economies

Colleges add spending, jobs, talent to economy

Colleges and universities in the Atlanta region contribute $10.8 billion and 130,000 jobs to the state's economy annually, according to a study released today by the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (ARCHE).

The report, "How the Atlanta Region's Colleges and Universities Are Enriching Georgia,' brings together data from Atlanta-area private and public institutions and shows a spending impact from the institutions, their students, employees and visitors of more than $9.2 billion a year. Spending on capital improvements adds another $1.5 billion impact in Georgia.

"Higher education is a significant sector of the Georgia economy," said ARCHE President Michael A. Gerber. "This report shows us a different way to think about the region's colleges and universities. These are not only great educational institutions - they're major developers, they're tourist attractions, and they're big employers."

"Until now, we have vastly underestimated the economic impact and overall importance of higher education to Georgia," said Craig Lesser, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, who spoke at the report's release Wednesday. "Georgia has a great story to tell, and all of us need to do a better job of talking about higher ed's contributions to Georgia and Atlanta as great destinations to live and do business."

Enriching lives across the state
The impact of these institutions reaches beyond Atlanta to the state as a whole. Much of the report's data is available by industry sector and by impact on the state of Georgia as well as on the Atlanta region. The report is online at

Numbers don't tell the whole story of the impact of these institutions on people around the state. So the report profiles seven Georgians - from a first-generation college student to a Decatur restaurant owner to a former U.S. Surgeon General - whose lives or businesses have been transformed by colleges and universities in the Atlanta area.

Visitors to campus
The 19 ARCHE member institutions draw 5.7 million visitors a year - 1.5 million of them for an overnight stay. They come for admissions visits, commencement celebrations, arts, sports, academic conferences and health care. While they're here, they spend $469 million each year in the state.

Key figures
"How the Atlanta Region's Colleges and Universities Are Enriching Georgia"

Combined annual economic impact on Georgia $10,767,423,000
(Includes impact of spending on capital improvements of $1,526,284,000 and impact of spending by colleges and universities, their students, employees and visitors of $9,241,140,000.)

Jobs created annually in Georgia 129,050

Combined annual economic impact on the Atlanta region $7,630,231,000

Jobs created annually in the Atlanta region 116,230

Students enrolled annually in Atlanta-area colleges and universities 216,500

Alumni of ARCHE-member institutions living in Georgia 522,540

State and local taxes paid in Georgia by alumni of ARCHE institutions $2.4 billion

For purposes of this study, the "Atlanta region" or "Atlanta area" includes the Athens-Clarke County Metropolitan Statistical Area, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta MSA and the Gainesville MSA. The study uses data from 49 degree-granting, accredited higher education institutions in these three MSAs. Of these, 21 are public and 28 are private (both for-profit and non-profit) institutions.

Information on annual spending and tax revenues is based on FY 2003 data and expressed in FY 2005 dollars. Information related to capital expenditures reflects an average annual impact based on the period FY 1999-FY 2003 expressed in FY 2005 dollars. Methodology details are at

The Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education brings together the Atlanta region's public and private colleges and universities. ARCHE builds awareness of the size, scope, impact and value of higher education and helps its 19 member institutions share strengths through cooperative programs such as cross registration and library sharing. Founded in 1938, ARCHE's membership also includes six affiliated libraries and 12 corporate and nonprofit community partners.

Visit information about ARCHE, its members and its reports.

Media Contacts:
Michael A. Gerber,
Beth Day,