USCB's impact goes far beyond education, study shows

gmartin@islandpacket.comJanuary 12, 2012 

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The University of South Carolina Beaufort has an annual, local impact of nearly $75 million, according to a study presented Thursday at its Hilton Head Gateway campus.

The study, commissioned and researched by the University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business, offered what the school called a quantitative analysis of USCB's contribution to the local economy, and suggested that impact could grow substantially as it builds a broader base of alumni.

The study calculated an economic impact based in part on USCB's employment and payroll, as well as the effect of its alumni living in Beaufort County. According to the study, USCB directly and indirectly supports 1,011 jobs in the state.

USCB's $74.6 million impact ranked it fourth among the university system's eight campuses in its contribution to the local economy. Overall, the university system pumps $4.1 billion into the state each year, according to the study.

University economist Doug Woodward said the local campus' four-year baccalaureate program, which began in 2002, is an indicator of stability and prosperity for the region.

"Nothing predicts how well the economy will do as well as the percentage of a population with a college degree," he said. "It's the best predictor we have by far."

The study cited a $27 million local impact of USCB alumni, a figure that should rise because the number of full-time students there has increased each year since 2002.

"We've had this extensive growth in a time where we've had a decrease in state support," said USCB chancellor Jane Upshaw, adding that the state provides only 5 percent of her school's $24-million annual budget.

"We try to act like we're a private institution, since that's what we're dealing with in terms of state support."

She added that none of the school's faculty had received a raise in the past four years.

A panel of local business leaders discussed the results of the study and ways to increase USCB's profile within the community.

"The university provides an anchor; it deepens our sense of community, our economic base and our attractiveness as a place to vacation or buy a home," said panelist Jon Rembold.

"It offers a level of stability as an economic driver, creating incomes, jobs and investments that spill over again and again as dollars are spent in our community," he added.

Kim Statler of the Lowcountry Economic Alliance agreed, saying "The more we've invested (in USCB), the more this community has received.

"I can't imagine this area without it."

Follow reporter Grant Martin at Twitter.com/LowCoBiz.

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