Engaging the community: KSU has $1.2B annual impact on area, Papp says

 Roger Tutterow
Roger Tutterow

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 3, 2015) — Kennesaw State University President Dan Papp, keynote speaker at the Cobb Chamber’s Monday breakfast, said KSU’s annual economic impact on the county and surrounding area is $1.2 billion. 

The university’s economic impact stems from a “hodge podge of things,” said David Connell, Chamber CEO. 

Between the students and faculty, Connell said the school impacts the economy by spending in the community as well as paying living expenses.

“Everything that goes on for every person they hire has an impact for the community that they’re in,” Connell said.

Roger Tutterow, a KSU economics professor, made a similar comment, saying KSU is an institution that helps “move the needle.”

“If you look at Cobb, you think of KSU being up there with some of the larger employers,” Tutterow said. “It’s also brought a lot of younger individuals into the community as students. They obviously spend money in the community.”

With more than 33,000 students after absorbing Southern Polytechnic State University in January, now called KSU’s Marietta campus, KSU is the third largest university in Georgia, behind the University of Georgia and Georgia State University.

“We are now one, single institution. We call ourselves the ‘new U,’” Papp said. 

During his talk, Papp outlined the university’s strategic plan to spur community engagement and help students prepare for the future.

The 52-year-old institution already offers more than 150 bachelor, master and doctoral programs, but the first step in the planning is to focus on expanding the university’s academic offerings, he said. 

Papp said student retention, progression and graduation is at the forefront. He wants to see more internships, undergraduate research, advisement and graduation coaches.

“We have an extreme need for more need-based scholarships at the university, as well,” he said. “We’re going out to donors wherever we can find them and asking them to provide for (in need) students.”

The university has instituted new degrees in subjects such as music and entertainment, culinary sustainability and cyber security. KSU also opened its first international campus in Montepulciano, Italy, last spring.

Also included in the strategic initiative are plans to implement economic development and world-class research with expanded student career services and placement programs, and a site that caters to startup businesses known as the Ignite HQ.

Papp said the site is not limited to KSU students but open to anyone interested in starting a business.

The university has expanded its externally-funded research by almost 700 percent, Papp said.

“We have gone from roughly $2 million to $14 million. Georgia Tech pulls in about $700 million per year, so when it comes to research, we are still in our, let’s just say our infant stage, but we are expanding our research,” he said.

KSU hired Cobb-native Charles Ross, director of Startup Networks for the Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Tech, as its first vice president for economic development and community engagement.

“Charles is tasked with better deploying resources at Kennesaw State in economic development and community engagement activities,” Papp said. “His responsibilities include reaching out into the community to help connect Kennesaw State more and better with all of the very many activities that are taking place, not only in Cobb County but also in surrounding counties as well.”

-The Marietta Daily Journal