College students’ return will help Hattiesburg’s economy boom

With two universities, Southern Miss and William Carey, a large portion of Hattiesburg's economy is made up of college students.
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 10:29 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - With two college campuses in Hattiesburg welcoming students back on campus, business is about to be booming.

“Within a 30-mile radius, there’s over 26,000 college students ten months out of the year, which obviously has a huge financial impact,” said Todd Jackson, executive director of Area Development Partnership (ADP).

With such a large influx of students, families and other visitors, many local businesses see a drastic increase in sales during the school year.

“Summers are pretty slow,” said Payton Wilson, Manager at Accents of Midtown. “Everyone at Southern and William Carey has gone home. When school starts back, we do see a good surplus of girls coming in and shopping for Greek things, moms, birthdays, girls’ nights. It stays pretty consistent.”

More students also mean more jobs. Some students look to make extra money throughout the year and grab a job while in town.

“This is probably the most applications that I’ve had put in, and I’m thankful that I’m able to get a lot more workers back,” said Kathleen Sick, manager at Campus Book Mart.

Whether the student is in front of or behind the counter, students are a considerable driving force in the growing Hub City economy.

“Our local economy here in Hattiesburg, there’s around $2 billion a year in annual retail sales, which is a staggering amount of retail sales and largely that is driven by the education sector and the students that come here,” said Jackson.

According to the ADP, Hattiesburg has some of the highest concentrations of Millennial and Gen Z spenders in the southeast United States.

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