Economic impact of community colleges
Community colleges are having a large economic impact on their home counties upstate, according to new research.
A report focused on Monroe Community College (MCC) in Western New York, calculated the institution has an annual impact of more than $710 million in Monroe County.
And, MCC president Anne Kress says SUNY colleges across upstate New York are no different.
“There are 30 community colleges spread throughout the state. Each one of us is having a real, positive impact on the economic development and the economic prosperity of our region. And what you see in Monroe County with MCC is replicated throughout the state, throughout the Finger Lakes region.”
Kress says despite a tough job market, individuals with post-secondary education fare much better in the current economy than those with high school diplomas or less.
She says approximately 90 percent of students coming out of career and technical training courses at MCC find jobs in their field.
“Folks who come out with higher education; with an associate’s degree, with a certificate, with a bachelor’s degree, fare much better in the economy than individuals who come out with a high school diploma or less. That’s one of the reasons that investing in higher education is so incredibly important,” says Kress.
“Quite frankly, without some post-secondary education you’re simply not going to find a home in the new economy.”
Kress says higher education leads to higher incomes, more productive employees in the workforce, and more spending in local communities.
She says students receive a high return on their investment in MCC, with each dollar paid resulting in a boost of more than $8 in their potential incomes.
“Students see an 18.3 percent return on their investment in Monroe Community College,” Kress says.
“What that really means is that for every dollar that a student invests in MCC, they’re going to see $8.30 back which seems fairly significant and I think that leads to the great impact we have on the county.”
And, she says, taxpayers are seeing high returns too.
“For every dollar of support that we see from taxpayers, we’ll give a return of $2.50. That comes in the form of higher tax receipts and social savings, so that’s significant,” she says.
“When we talk about social savings what we’re talking about is reduced welfare, reduced crime, reduced health costs that come about because folks really do treat themselves a little bit better in terms of their health and wellness the more educated that they become.”
Kress says community colleges are also helping to fill the skills shortage being experienced by industries like advanced manufacturing.
“There’s a shortage of skilled labor quite frankly in many fields, and one of the interesting things for us is to see how many folks are coming back to what we would think of as career and technical education programs who already have bachelor’s degrees in other fields but they’re finding that right now there just isn’t a place for them in the economy.”
According to the report, the Monroe County economy receives $102.6 million annually in income due to MCC operations.