Last Thursday, Vice President of The Savannah Tribune, Tanya Milton sat down with the vice presidents of both of SCAD’s Georgia campuses to discuss their annual $766.2 million economic impact on the state and community of Savannah, GA.
For the last 41 years, the Savannah College of Art and Design has intricately woven itself into the city of Savannah through the conservation of historic buildings and the impartation of new life in the form of students and business opportunities. According to Tripp Umbach’s economic impact study, SCAD’s Savannah campus generates $577 million annually through employment, student enrollment, local government revenue, alumni, cultural events and festivals, and charitable giving during the 2019 fiscal year. Additionally, the university has directly supported nearly 3,000 jobs throughout the Savannah region.
In combination with the indirect jobs brought through capital projects, development, and suppliers, the university accounts for a total of 6,756 jobs in the Savannah area alone. Aside from the benefits the hometown reaps, SCAD enrolls more than 15,000 students from all over the world, with more than 45,000 alumni — 22% of which remain in Georgia — further increasing the state’s earning potential. 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.
Eager to highlight the stories behind the numbers, Milton briefly discussed the makings of Savannah through her eyes as a local-grown businesswoman. Milton worked in the downtown area and remembers how the development of Oglethorpe Mall depleted the business economy of Broughton Street… She credits SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace and SCAD for revitalizing the city through their creative approach of preserving history while making new waves of history.
Wallace said, “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.”
When asked, “How does SCAD want to be perceived by the community in which it is housed?” Audra Pittman, the VP of the Atlanta campus replied, “We want SCAD to be seen as part of the community, part of the future, part of the identity, part of telling the Savannah story. SCAD is the preeminent source of knowledge for everything that we are doing here and will continue to do. We are a part of the community and the fabric of what makes Savannah so special. We want to continue to impact the city as a creative economy.” In addition, Milton asked Savannah VP John Bucrkovich, “Where does SCAD go from here?” Bucrkovich responded, “While other universities’ enrollment rates are down, SCAD’s enrollment rate is up 18 percent over the last five years. We will continue to bring in industry-leading professors, teaching an innovative curriculum, and applying advanced technology. Together, we will continue to use these tools to prepare students for creative careers. And as we continue to grow, we have cities that would like us to bring what we have cultivated here in Savannah to their city to replicate.”
SCAD continues to create a base for their future industry professionals, by forming SCADpro, a design shop and interactive studio that connects Fortune 500 clients with workforce-ready students in need of field experience. This studio allows alumni to launch businesses while still cultivating higher education opportunities for current students. SCADpro has partnered with many top companies including Google, BMW, Disney, NASA, Uber, and Delta Airlines to name a few. By equipping the future leaders of tomorrow with the best possible experience, SCAD continues to impact the Savannah community.
Furthermore, SCAD is helping to make Savannah safer. Many people of the community have responded positively to the use of ShotSpotter technology, implemented through SCAD’s public safety initiative. ShotSpotter technology is an outdoor sensor that detects when a gun is fired, then it’s software triangulates the sound to pinpoint the location of the shooter to then notify law enforcement. Implementing this use of technology has helped reduce crime, ultimately producing safer communities. SCAD’s Department of University Safety provides students, visitors, and citizens with a safer and more secure experience — promoting community engagement and greater quality of life in areas surrounding the university. SCAD has set the standard for success and continues to raise the bar for their students and communities.