ABAC Economic Impact Swells to $529,838,507

Staff Report From Tifton CEO

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Thanks to a higher number of students, more employees, and more expensive off-campus housing, the economic impact of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on South Georgia soared to a record $529,838,507 in fiscal year 2017, according to a recent statewide study.

The University System of Georgia (USG) sanctioned the statewide economic impact study, which was conducted by Dr. Jeffrey M. Humphreys, Director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley said the USG had a $16.8 billion economic impact on the state of Georgia.  The USG created 163,754 jobs and 2.2 of those jobs were created for every USG job in an institution’s home town.

“Communities across our state benefit from the economic engine that is the USG and its 26 institutions,” Wrigley said.

Tifton and the South Georgia area certainly benefited as the 2017 report revealed that 444 jobs at ABAC resulted in 1,382 jobs off campus for a total impact of 1,826 jobs in the area. The previous fiscal year report in 2016 showed ABAC with 230 on-campus jobs resulting in 886 off-campus jobs for a total impact of 1,116 jobs in the area.

“More jobs at ABAC means more jobs in South Georgia,” Dr. Renata Elad, Dean of the Stafford School of Business at ABAC, said.  “ABAC had a much bigger employment impact plus the cost of housing went up, and the average rent in Tifton went up that year.  Personal expenses for entertainment, apparel, and services were also up.”

Elad analyzed the USG numbers for ABAC and found the ABAC economic impact a monumental 31 per center higher than the $369,874,664 impact in the 2016 fiscal year.

“ABAC needs South Georgia, and South Georgia needs ABAC,” Elad said in her analysis.  “With total employment of over 1,800 jobs directly from student spending activities and an overall labor impact of almost $66 million, ABAC is definitely a strong partner in regional growth.”

ABAC’s enrollment increased to 3,475 students for the 2016 fall from 3,393 students in the 2015 fall term.  The enrollment also increased in the 2017 spring and summer terms. 

With instructional sites in Tifton, Moultrie, Bainbridge, Blakely, and Donalsonville during the 2018 fall term and a record enrollment of 4,291 students, ABAC President David Bridges believes the economic impact of ABAC will soar again next year.

“It’s inevitable that the impact will be even higher because we teach classes in so many more locations, and we have quite a few more students,” Bridges said.  “We are also in our 11th year of offering bachelor’s degree programs, and you can’t discount the value of students staying here for four or five years instead of two or three years.”

ABAC offered only associate degrees from 1933 through 2007.  The college began offering classes leading to bachelor’s degrees in 2008.  Now over 2,000 students at ABAC major in bachelor’s degree programs.