Central Arizona College is slated to expand into the city of Maricopa with a new campus. To get a sense of the possible economic impacts of the Maricopa branch, a local news website talked to EMSI Co-Founder Kjell Christophersen and looked at other EMSI studies of similar-sized community colleges.
Another study from Texas released in November, “Moving Texas Forward,” reports Texas taxpayers see a rate of return of 6.9 percent on their investment in community colleges and that Texas sees an annual addition to its gross state product of $1.6 billion from these institutions.
The report says every dollar of state and local tax money invested in community colleges yields $28 in cumulative benefits that eventually accrue to residents as added income and avoided social costs.
Workforce growth is key
To formulate these impact figures, studies typically look at growth in the quantity and quality of a
regional workforce, according to Kjell Christophersen, senior economist with Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc.
Christophersen’s firm has conducted studies for more than 1,000 community college districts and is considered the foremost expert on modeling colleges’ economic impacts. “Typically 70 to 80 percent of the students who attend a community college are from the region and will remain in the area when they finish their education,” said Christophersen. “That kind of educated workforce creates higher earning potential and a larger tax base.”
Besides increasing regional earning, Christophersen said community colleges are economically beneficial due to money the colleges spend in communities, jobs they provide for teachers and other staff members and dollars spent by students and staff on local goods and services.