A Chance to Succeed: A Report by Selig Center For Economic Growth

A Chance to Succeed is the East Lake story in numbers. First, it shows the net economic impact of expenditures related to the operation of The Villages of East Lake, Drew Charter School, Sheltering Arms Early Education Center, East Lake Golf Club, Charlie Yates Golf Course, East Lake Family YMCA, and the East Lake Foundation. The economic impact of the PGA Tour Championship is covered in Part 2.

Part 3 details the impact of new businesses in the area, including Publix supermarket, Wachovia and SunTrust banks, and the BP station.

The fourth section covers net changes in residents’ earnings. The earnings of those who live in the Villages of East Lake are estimated and compared to estimates of the earnings of residents of the old East Lake Meadows housing project.

Next, A Chance to Succeed examines how appreciation of residential property values adds to the wealth of residents who are landowners, increases their spending power, and lowers their borrowing costs. This section of the report compares the rate of property value appreciation in the East Lake community to rates realized in comparable communities in DeKalb County.

The last two sections of A Chance to Succeed underscore the title, because these pages analyze the economic benefits of the improved quality of education provided by the Drew Charter School; and the economic benefits of reduction in crime rates. In the education section, the Selig Center compares standardized test scores of Drew Charter to those of other similarly situated public schools. The standardized test scores also are used to predict educational attainment, which in turn, becomes the base for our estimates of graduates’ earnings over a working lifetime.

The final section estimates the economic benefits to the East Lake community associated with reductions in crime rates. Benefits are assessed both in terms of costs avoided by victims as well as costs avoided by government (costs incurred by incarceration, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system).

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The redevelopment of the East Lake Campus by the East Lake Foundation generates substantial, sustainable economic benefits. These include: (1) the economic impacts of expenditures flowing from the institutions that comprise the East Lake Campus, new commercial developments, and the PGA Tour Championship; (2) higher household incomes for the residents of The Villages of East Lake; (3) above-average appreciation of home values in the surrounding neighborhood; (4) lifetime benefits of improved educational outcomes; and (5) the avoided costs of reducing crime and saving high-risk youth.

To the extent that currently available information allows, this report estimates many of the economic impacts and benefits of the redevelopment of Atlanta’s East Lake community. For a capital investment of $154 million (nominal dollars), the rewards generated in a single year (2007) are impressive. East Lake Campus institutions, the PGA Tour, and new commercial developments generated an output impact of $81 million. In 2006, the household income of the residents of The Villages of East Lake is $12 million ($ 2007) more than it would have been without redevelopment. The improved education provided by the Drew Charter School boosts the expected lifetime earnings of the 2007 graduating class by $14 million. The neighborhood’s sharply lower crime rate saved residents nearly $6 million. Based on those benefits alone, it took only 19 months before the pay-off from redevelopment of the East Lake Campus exceeded the initial capital costs of redevelopment.

In addition to the benefits that can be easily allocated to a single year, the benefit to society from Drew Charter School’s current students and alumni will lead to avoided costs of incarceration of $22 million. Moreover, the savings to society resulting from fewer career criminals among high-risk youths range from $89 million to $107 million.

Because the East Lake community is very desirable, the neighborhood’s long-term homeowners have benefited from home price appreciation that is substantially higher than in either the Atlanta MSA or the nation as a whole. Finally, it is noteworthy that the economic impact of the initial capital outlays themselves generated over $226 million in economic activity, primarily in the construction and real estate industries.