A new, in-depth economic impact analysis conducted in FY2019-20 found that A-B Tech Community College had a $405.8 million annual impact on the regional economy, supporting more than 7402 jobs, or one out of every 41 jobs, in the Western Gateway region.
The impact of the increased earnings of A-B Tech alumni and the businesses they work for totaled $340.1 million, while A-B Tech operations spending contributed $53.5 million and student spending contributed $12.2 million. The study looked at a five-county impact area comprised of Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Haywood, and Henderson counties.
“The study verifies that community college graduates have higher incomes that contribute to a larger tax base and substantial economic growth,” said A-B Tech President John Gossett. “Students who graduate with an associate’s degree see an increase in earnings of up to $7,000 or more each year compared to a person with only a high school diploma. And if our graduates then earn a bachelor’s degree, their annual income doubles on average.”
The study also confirms A-B Tech’s significant and long-standing economic impact in Western North Carolina, Gossett said. “As the region’s largest college, A-B Tech has served our community since 1959. The data from only one year indicate that we added $405.8 million in income and supported 7,402 jobs, so imagine the impact over 63 years.”
The report assessed the economic impact of five key A-B Tech programs on the area economy, the return on investment for students, and the benefits generated for N.C. taxpayers. The high-demand career pathways quantified in the report include jobs and programs related to Allied Health, Business & Information Technology (IT), Engineering Technology, Nursing, and Public Safety.
With support from the North Carolina General Assembly, leaders from the N.C. Association of Community College Presidents, the N.C. Community College System Office, the Center for Applied Research, N.C. State’s Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, and the John M. Belk Endowment teamed up to collaborate with national research leader Emsi Burning Glass to produce a regional Economic Impact Study for each of the state’s 58 community colleges, as well as an overall statewide report.
The studies found that each of North Carolina’s community colleges pump millions of dollars into the regions they serve - creating jobs, wealth, and opportunities for local residents. North Carolina’s 58 community colleges represent a combined $19 billion in annual impact on the state’s economy and support one out of every 19 jobs in the state.
“The return on investment in our community colleges is unmatched – not only for students and parents, but taxpayers and our entire state economy,” said N.C. Community College System President Thomas Stith. “We are proud of the contributions of our graduates and employees to enhance and strengthen our North Carolina communities.”
The economic impact study found that for every dollar the state invests in North Carolina’s Community Colleges, the state gains $7.50 in added incomes and social savings. The 58 colleges generate nearly double the revenue from what they receive from taxpayers. For every $1 the state invests, taxpayers get $1.90 back in added tax revenues and public sector savings.
“We’re pleased the reports so clearly quantify and demonstrate the major economic impact North Carolina’s 58 community colleges, faculty, students, and alumni have in each of their respective areas,“ said Dr. Mark Poarch, president of Caldwell Community College and current President of the N.C. Association of Community College Presidents. “Our colleges offer a big return on investment for students and employers, policymakers, and taxpayers. We are grateful for the continued confidence in what we do and for continued commitment to making smart investments in our state.”
“It’s been a privilege to have worked and supported our education partners on this study from the beginning, as I was confident the results would blow us away. And it did. I think it’s fair to say not many government-funded programs generate more revenue than they take in from taxpayers,” said State Senator Deanna Ballard, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “It’s critical that our high school graduates and adults looking to gain new skills take advantage of the incredible opportunities that their local community college provides.”
“Our community colleges are among the state’s most critical assets to leverage and accelerate the education and upskilling of our state’s homegrown talent,” said MC Belk Pilon, president and board chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. “As we look ahead, we must continue and accelerate investments in our 58 community colleges to ensure we increase access to economic mobility, prepare North Carolinians for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and further grow local and state economies.”
More information about the statewide economic impact studies can be found at BigROIforNC.org, including the state report, as well as reports, fact sheets, and summaries for each of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges.