January 31, 2020 by Remie Verougstraete
We’re thrilled to announce the release of Community Colleges as Economic Engines, a new book from Emsi cofounder and senior economist, Dr. Kjell Christophersen. As the latest entry into the Futures Series on Community Colleges, it offers a compelling vision for how community college leaders can better understand, communicate, and leverage economic data to demonstrate the value of their institution.
When Dr. Kjell Christophersen and Dr. Ray Taylor, then CEO of the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), met for lunch in 1999, economic impact studies weren’t new. Nor was the need for community colleges to demonstrate their value and compete for scarce public funding. However, as Dr. Taylor explained to Dr. Christophersen, no one had yet developed an economic model robust enough to capture and quantify the unique ways that community colleges drive regional prosperity.
To answer this challenge, Christophersen teamed up with his colleague from the University of Idaho, Dr. Henry (Hank) Robison. With their combined expertise in investment analysis and regional economic modeling, Hank and Kjell (as they’re known around the Emsi office) set out to develop a model that could overcome the shortcomings of existing impact studies and provide the comprehensive, defensible data that ACCT members were looking for.
After an extensive literature review, ongoing support from ACCT, and close collaboration with several pilot schools, Hank and Kjell produced a model that current ACCT president J. Noah Brown has called “the most influential and thorough economic impact model ever devised.” Using economic impact studies, colleges can better demonstrate their value to their local communities.
Here’s what Brown and others are saying about the book:
“Community Colleges as Economic Engines describes the journey and incredible impact of the most influential and thorough economic impact model ever devised. The results yielded by economic impact studies are a stunning testament to the power and impact of our colleges, which must now be viewed as true economic engines and creators of wealth for both students and communities alike.”
– J. Noah Brown, president and Chief Executive Officer, ACCT
“Kjell Christophersen and Hank Robison together developed the gold standard for evaluating the public value—both socially and economically—of community colleges and other institutions of higher education. In layman’s terms, this highly accessible book describes what’s needed in any economic study of today’s colleges.”
– Cindy Kay Hough, retired Legislative Liaison and Trustees’ Administrator, WA State Board for Community and Technical Colleges
“Community Colleges as Economic Engines showcases how an economic impact study can bring life to the stories that we share about our students and our colleges’ contributions to the nation’s economy. Having data that reinforces and showcases the impact of a community college on the unique community it serves is priceless. At the local and federal levels, I have used economic impact studies to illustrate the power of the community college. This book provides insights that help to deepen the understanding of the data that every community college president can use to advocate for their college.”
– Walter G. Bumphus Ph.D, President and CEO, AACS
“Dr. Kjell Christophersen will be at the ACCT National Legislative Summit (NLS) in Washington D.C. on February 9th through 12th. If you’ll be at NLS and would like a free, autographed copy of Community Colleges as Economic Engines, look for Dr. Christophersen and Emsi senior representative Brian Bailey at the opening night reception in the atrium. They’ll have a limited number of copies with them and would love to get this resource into your hands!”