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Simon Says: SRS Economic Impact

Dr. Simon Medcalfe, AU Economics Professor

Editor’s Note: One of the interesting aspects at SRS is the average salary—nearly $100,000 per year! In the next year or so, more than 1,000 jobs will be added by SRNS, the largest contractor. The person who directed a recent economic study breaks down more of the numbers in today’s “Simon Says” report.

Augusta Business Daily has covered several stories surrounding the recently published Economic Impact of the Savannah River Site (SRS or the Site), a report written by five of my students (Rachel Boyd, Jessica Collins, Caleb Hawkins, Herick Isago, and Travis Smith). Not all details can fit in each story, so let me add some context here.

The headline number is an economic impact of $2.2 billion (about 10% of GDP) and over 15,800 jobs supported in the five counties of Aiken, Allendale, and Barnwell in South Carolina, and Columbia and Richmond in Georgia. These total numbers can be broken down into three distinct effects. The direct effect reflects actual expenditures by SRS on payroll, fringe benefits, and supplies. The indirect effect estimates the ripple effect of the Site buying goods and services from other local industries while the induced effect measures the result of SRS employees spending their income in the local area.

Impact on 5 counties Employment Output
Direct 8,639 $1,167,054,389
Indirect 2,688 $361,755,517
Induced 4,485 $641,568,213
15,813 $2,170,378,119


The students also calculated the economic impact just on the three South Carolina counties. This amounted to $1.3 billion in 2020 (18.5% of GDP). Almost 10,000 jobs are supported in the three South Carolina counties. In the two Georgia counties, the economic impact is $611 million (about 4% of GDP) and about 4,500 supported jobs.

South Carolina
Impact Employment Output
Direct 6,126 $829,740,201
Indirect 1,833 $232,227,971
Induced 1,910 $242,817,446
9,868 $1,304,785,617


Impact Employment Output
Direct 2,513 $337,326,827
Indirect 827 $104,178,727
Induced 1,161 $169,342,142
4,501 $610,847,696

The total impact ($2.2 billion) does not equal the sum of the impact in South Carolina ($1.3 billion) plus the impact in Georgia ($611 million) because of what economists call leakages. For the Site to have a local impact, spending needs to occur in the local area. If, say, a worker who lives in Aiken spends some of their income at the mall in Richmond County, then this will be counted as local spending for the five-county area, but not for the three-county South Carolina area.

Next week, I will provide some more detail on how SRS supports local small businesses.

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