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SCAD Generates $766 Million in Economic Impact for Georgia


The Savannah College of Art and Design’s (SCAD) economic impact on Georgia has reached an all-time high. According to a study conducted by Tripp Umbach, the leading national consulting firm for not-for-profit, arts, and tourism sectors, SCAD generates $766.2 million in annual economic impact for the state​. Additionally, SCAD’s two-year growth rate is four times greater than the national average for colleges and universities.

Over the course of six months, Tripp Umbach completed a comprehensive analysis of the university’s overall economic and community impacts on the state of Georgia. The findings were analyzed to show SCAD’s direct impact on Savannah and Atlanta, specifically. The study found SCAD has a tremendous and overwhelmingly positive influence on the vitality of the economy in the state, through jobs, student and visitor spending, public events, construction, alumni earning power, public safety, and charitable giving.

SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace said, “SCAD is significant not only due to the tremendous economic contributions which directly benefit the hometowns in which we operate, but because of the millions of lives the university has profoundly touched during these past four decades. It brings me great joy that many SCAD students make the choice to stay in Georgia to work and daily contribute to their professions and to Fortune 500 businesses. SCAD grads’ expertise enhances the workforce of Savannah, Atlanta, and the great state of Georgia.”

SCAD’s mission is to prepare talented students for creative careers and serve as the preeminent source of knowledge in the disciplines it teaches. Career preparation is woven into every fiber of the university, resulting in a superior alumni employment rate. For the past two consecutive spring quarters, 99 percent of SCAD graduates were employed or pursuing further education or both within 10 months of graduation.

With two of its four global locations based in Georgia, SCAD enrolls more than 15,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Offering more than 100 accredited degree programs in more than 40 disciplines, SCAD has helped create a diverse and thriving economy for the state. With 45,000 alumni worldwide — 22% of whom remain in Georgia — SCAD graduates increase the state’s earning potential and productivity. Award-winning SCAD buildings have revitalized Savannah and serve as anchors for the neighborhoods, businesses, and cultural institutions of their communities. SCAD alumni currently living in Georgia have generated more than $4 billion over the last 40 years.

“Today, SCAD has not only transformed the historic port city of Savannah but has brought its unique blend of old and new — future-oriented, technologically advanced professional preparation offered in dazzling, refurbished old buildings — to Hong Kong, Lacoste, and Atlanta,” said Wallace. “The ripple effects of SCAD throughout communities across the world by our 45,000 alumni contributing to the future growth of professions is unquantifiable. The SCAD economic impact study demonstrates that SCAD is key to a safer city, a smarter citizen, and a sound economy.”

SCAD is nonprofit and accredited. The university employs over 2,000 individuals and impacts nearly 7,600 jobs across the state. Annual state and local government revenue attributable to the presence of SCAD totals more than $36.5 million. This is revenue collected by the government, in addition to those paid directly by the university, including taxes paid by employees, visitors to SCAD, and vendors who conduct business with SCAD. The university’s festivals, screenings, museums, and galleries, all open to the public, emphasizing SCAD as a community-engaged institution, generate $48 million annually in tourism for Georgia.

“SCAD is committed to continuously enhancing the communities where we operate, especially in Georgia,” Wallace said. “The university’s tremendous economic impact reflects SCAD’s direct contribution to the economy and is a testament to the next-gen designers who build and grow the future.”

This future-forward approach is epitomized by SCADpro, the university’s research and innovation studio devoted to solving creative and business challenges for Fortune 500 clients in Georgia and around the world, launching alumni businesses and providing executive education opportunities. SCADpro partners include BMW, Delta Air Lines, Disney, Home Depot, Google, Microsoft, NASA, Deloitte, and Coca-Cola. SCADpro is recognized as the preeminent university partner in higher education and among design agencies worldwide.

The report highlights SCAD’s regional impacts on Savannah and Atlanta.

In addition to two museums in Savannah, including the nationally lauded, award-winning SCAD Museum of Art, the university enhances the regional tourism in the coastal empire by providing many cultural events for visitors The SCAD Savannah Film Festival, SCAD Fashion shows, deFINE ART, and the Sidewalk Arts Festival draw of thousands of visitors to Savannah each year. The SCAD Savannah Film Festival, which honors guests such as Hugh Jackman, Emily Blunt, and John Krasinski, attracts more than 60,000 visitors to the Savannah area.

SCAD Economic Impact on Atlanta

In Atlanta, where SCAD-Atlanta’s employment impact in Atlanta has nearly doubled in only two years. SCAD Atlanta is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Enrollment in Atlanta has grown at rapid rates, from 77 students in 2005 to 2,793 students in Fall 2019–a 3,627 percent increase. The economic impact generated in Atlanta is $155.7 million annually.​ Last fall the university opened a 182,000-square-foot residence hall, FORTY, which provides 592 beds for students. An additional 20-story residence hall is already under construction adjacent to FORTY. The university has created bold new programs like aTVfest, GamingFest, AnimationFest, SCAD deFINE ART, SCAD Fashion Show, and SCADFILM that are open to the public and draw such luminaries as Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Carolina Herrera, Ruth E. Carter, Shonda Rhimes, and turning the spotlight on Atlanta.

Public Safety

Beyond its architectural and creative influence, the university has helped reduce crime and create safer communities. The SCAD Department of University Safety has pioneered public safety technology and programs in Savannah and Atlanta to provide students, visitors and citizens with a safer, more secure city experience. SCAD was the first university in the U.S. to use ShotSpotter technology, and has implemented outdoor sensor technology in downtown and midtown Savannah. Strategically placed security cameras are monitored continuously. These initiatives, in addition to foot traffic generated by virtue of SCAD buildings and events, help engender community engagement and much-admired quality of life in neighborhoods surrounding the university.

Key findings from the study are included below. For more information about SCAD’s economic impact on Georgia, and specifically in Savannah and Atlanta, link to the full report at


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