New Impact Studies Unveiled in Wyoming, N.C., and Illinois

May 21, 2011 by Emsi Burning Glass

image of Lightcast gradiant

Several colleges and statewide higher education systems have unveiled new Economic Impact Studies in recent days — here’s a rundown:

The Wyoming Community College Commission released results Friday from EMSI’s analysis of the state’s seven community colleges, according to the Billings Gazette. The aggregate study revealed Wyoming community colleges generate $866 million annually to the state — an impact the Commission plans to use in its most recent budget request to the Wyoming state legislature.

A few community colleges commissioned their own studies in previous years, said Jim Rose, executive director of the commission. Rose said the statewide study supports the colleges’ mission to promote the economic interests of the state.”It’s a fairly telling report in terms of the importance and the impact of funding provided to colleges,” Rose said. “The number of times those dollars are turned over and multiplied is information people should know.”

The study also reveals the benefits Wyoming community college students gain from completing associate degrees.

The average income at career midpoint for a graduate is $44,100 — 35 percent more than a student with just a high school diploma. For every dollar spent on their community college education, graduates receive a cumulative $5.60 over their working careers.

Blue Ridge Community College’s impact to its service area in North Carolina is an estimated $87.2 million, a local newspaper reported.

The study, conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., sought to determine the college’s economic contribution to the community based on academic and financial reports from the college, statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and earning reports from the U.S. Census.

The findings of the report were presented to business people in the community at a breakfast Wednesday at the college’s conference hall.

According to the report, BRCC students have earned an estimated 527,600 credits over the past 30 years. Trained workers earn higher wages, and the added income attributed to BRCC equals $73.9 million per year.

“Both students and taxpayers enjoy a return on their investment,” BRCC President Molly Parkhill said Wednesday.

Graduates of Lewis and Clark Community College in Illinois see a 17.4% rate of return on their investment in their degrees. That finding was highlighted in a recent article in the Telegraph, a regional newspaper.

With dozens of programs offered, Lewis and Clark graduates become nurses, dental hygienists, police officers, firefighters, paralegals, automotive technicians and process operations technicians, among other professions.

“The majority of our graduates stay in the area,” Chapman said. “That is what really multiplies the impact we have economically on our district.”

From a social perspective, these students expand the region’s, as well as the state’s, economic base through their higher incomes, which in turn allows businesses to become more productive through their employees’ added skills.

“While I’m sure that most community colleges have a positive impact on their communities, that said, I think Lewis and Clark is exceptional,” RiverBend Growth Association President Monica Bristow said. “Not only have they served traditional students, but they have done so much to meet the needs of our corporate citizens in the way of adult programs, specifically developing programs for ConocoPhillips and Olin Corporation.

“Lewis and Clark is a proven school with a good reputation, so they have been able to get capital from the state to improve their campus, which has helped local contractors,” she said. “The money has been put to good use and comes full circle.”