Pikes Peak Community College packs a $323 million economic punch to El Paso County, and that’s just a portion of the $3 billion annual economic impact that community colleges bring to Colorado.
The news comes from a report released by the Colorado Community College System, which is the governing body for the state’s 13 community colleges and its 162,000 students.
The hefty numbers include the higher earnings that students receive as a result of their college education, as well as the increased business productivity because of a highly trained workforce.
For every $1 students invest in their education at a community college, they see an average increase of $3.10 in their working careers, the study said. State and local governments see an average rate of return of 5.9 percent as a result of their investment in the colleges.
On an annual basis, after adjusting for inflation, students receive an 11 percent rate of return on the money they invested in their community college education.
“The results of this study clearly demonstrate the value of community colleges to the students, the taxpayers and businesses in Colorado,” said Dr. Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System. “As our students earn their higher education, they become more employable; they are paid better, and can then afford to invest in the kinds of products and services to improve their lives.”
Businesses benefit by having higher skilled employees, which allows the business to grow and hire more employees, she said.
“We are pleased that the results of the study show that community colleges are a wise investment of taxpayer and student money because the return is substantial,” she said.
Pikes Peak Community College has a total economic impact of $323.317 million. For every $1 a PPCC student invests, they see an average increase of $3.60 in their working careers.
Dr. Lance Bolton, PPCC president, said he sees the impact of education on the students and on the community. Thanks to the study, the college can quantify the full impact of a PPCC education to the community at large, he said.
“Each day we see and hear of students turning their lives around, landing their dream job or giving back through their volunteer work at a local charity,” he said. “In large part, these students are able to do this because of the quality education they receive while at PPCC.”
The study was conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. EMSI is a professional service firm that provides economic consulting to colleges. Since 2000, EMSI has produced more than 1,100 economic impact studies for community colleges in the U.S.