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Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research evaluates local manufacturers’ response to COVID-19 pandemic

Georgia Southern University’s Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research (CBAER) reported in a recent study that despite employment and production challenges, manufacturers in the coastal region are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBAER, a unit of the University’s Business Innovation Group (BIG), began the study in January 2021 at the request of the Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia (CRC), which works to promote and provide comprehensive planning services for the 10 counties and 35 cities that it serves across coastal Georgia. The goal of the study was to utilize data collected by CBAER to understand key economic trends in the manufacturing industry between late 2019 and early 2022.

In total, manufacturing employment in the coastal region reached 25,643 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2021. While this figure is 3.6 % below the starting point of the analysis in the fourth quarter of 2019, it also shows an increase of more than 1,800 jobs in the coastal region, which is a significant improvement since the lowest point of employment in the third quarter of 2020.

Data reflected that small manufacturers in the coastal region – classified as those with less than 50 employees – saw their workforce shrink by 129 direct jobs from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2021. CBAER estimated that the economic impact of these losses created a decline of more than $68 million in direct manufacturing output over those nine quarters. On the other hand, large manufacturers, which support more than 50 jobs, saw a decline of 833 direct jobs. This loss resulted in a decrease of $515 million in direct output.

Through the study, CBAER found that these declines were attributed to shifts in demand for goods rather than a loss of manufacturers in the area. While production needs changed, the local industry lost only three manufacturing establishments overall.

Assistant Director of CBAER Ben McKay noted just how crucial the coastal area’s recovery effort is to the state and local economy.

“Our report illustrates that the manufacturing industry is one of the most important sectors in the coastal region’s economy,” McKay said. “Coastal manufacturers service clients across the United States, and that range shields our region from some of the fluctuations of local business cycles, which trail a quarter behind state and national trends.”

Identifying these trends was the goal of the CRC when their team requested the study in early 2021, as the data focuses on the 10 counties the commission serves, including: Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh and Screven. 

“Our region must prepare for the growth and development coming to our expanding and new industries,” said CRC Chairman Jason Coley. “Our communities must utilize every tool available to effectively manage anticipated growth, and this report is a must-have implement for the region’s planning toolbox.”

In reference to long-term strategy, CRC Executive Director Allen Burns noted the importance of  collaboration to keep the region moving forward. 

“It’s necessary that we collaborate regionally to successfully absorb growth, maximize benefits and confront challenges,” said Burns. “The CRC is proud to be a close partner with Georgia Southern’s CBAER team, and their work on the manufacturing study is a prime example of the regional approach needed.”

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers approximately 140 different degree programs serving nearly 26,000 students through 10 colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit


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