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Study: SCAD’s local economic impact reaches $438M

  • The Savannah College of Art and Design contributed $438 million to the local economy during the fiscal year 2017 and directly supported more than 2,500 full and part-time jobs in the area, according to a recent study (Photo courtesy of SCAD)

The Savannah College of Art and Design contributed $438 million to the local economy during the fiscal year 2017 and directly supported more than 2,500 full and part-time jobs in the area, according to a recent study.

“SCAD is always very interested in being good for the economy, the culture and the physical environment that we’re in. That’s part of our nature,” said Danny Filson, executive director of giving for SCAD.

The study was conducted on behalf of the college by Tripp Umbach, a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm.

Filson called the report, which included, Bryan, Chatham and Effingham counties, a preeminent source of information in the disciplines and majors that are taught at SCAD as well as allowing them to assess the real impact they’re having across the community. It also provides community members and visitors a clear and concise look at what happens behind the scenes, he said.

“I think it’s a meaningful connection for the community to really be able to say, ‘OK, these are the numbers, this is the undeniable factor of the economic impact here,’” he said.

“Certainly when people walk around Savannah or hear about the accomplishments of our alumni, they have that understanding of the value of SCAD, but that meaningful connection of the economic impact behind what you can physically see and experience for yourself is deeply important to SCAD and to Paula (Wallace).”

Overall, the study found that SCAD contributed a total of $603 million in Georgia with $193.9 million in direct spending and the remaining $409.4 million in indirect spending. The statewide impact area includes campus and facilities of SCAD Atlanta.

Comparatively Armstrong State University and Savannah State University contributed a combined $400 million across Chatham, Effingham, Bryan, Liberty, and Bulloch counties and supported about 5,000 jobs, according to the recent study conducted by the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

“I think we have to look at the jobs that creates,” Filson said speaking about both local and statewide impact. SCAD directly supported 3,271 jobs and through spending on projects, developments and through suppliers the school indirectly supported an additional 3,418 jobs in Georgia, according to the study.

Visitor spending, volunteer hours

According to the report, nearly $40 million of the overall impact is generated from visitor spending in conjunction with SCAD sponsored events like the Savannah Film Festival, sidewalk arts festival and several Atlanta campus events. In Savannah specifically, Filson said SCAD’s restoration efforts have also helped bring visitors to the city.

“That can’t but help to drive tourism and tourism is a vital part of the Savannah community and the state of Georgia, without a doubt,” he said, adding that the events themselves serve as a way to create more opportunities and celebrate the area.

The report also found that both students and faculty donated about $3.6 million to various charitable organizations across the state. The report also combined impacts of employees’ and students’ monetary donations to organizations and the value of a volunteer hour in Georgia, which is $24.39 per hour and found that the volunteer hours amounted to about $17 million, a surprise for Filson, but a good one.

“$3.6 million, that’s a tremendous impact on the quality of life, the educational opportunities, the cultural enrichment of the communities in the state of Georgia. When you couple that with our volunteer hours that our students, faculty and staff are engaged and really making a difference…,” he said.

Although numbers are positive, Filson said SCAD and President Paula Wallace are always looking for ways to move forward and improve.

“There is never been a moment in my nearly 21 years at SCAD that SCAD has ever said, ‘Ok, well we’re there.’ We are always moving forward,” he said, citing the school’s ongoing effort to improve crime and safety by introducing ShotSpotter technology and maintaining close relationships with the police force.

“… There is never any stopping, there is only moving forward, there is only doing an assessment and in a few years we will assess again to see how we’ve gotten better and how we’ve added more to the economic impact, the cultural impact and the livability of Savannah and the safety of Savannah.”

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On the web

To see the entire Savannah College of Art and Design economic impact report, go to www.scad.edu/community-impact-2017.

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