CMC claims $253.7 million in yearly local wages
Robert Dick says Colorado Mountain College officials intuitively figured the college has a significant economic impact on the six counties it serves, but that impact was never quantified until now.The quantification, in the form of a 67-page socio-economic study, arrived earlier this month. It says the college directly and indirectly accounts for $253.7 million in local wages per year, and keeps 59 people a year out of jail.”This study gives us some information to talk about,” said Dick, the CMC trustee from Steamboat Springs.Trustee Doris Dewton of Edwards said the college board will fan out through the district early next year to explain the study to other elected bodies and community groups.”We’ll talk about the importance of CMC,” Dewton said.The $4,000 study was conducted by the Idaho-based CCbenefits, and used a computer model funded by the Association of Community College Trustees.”We’ve done 250 of these studies,” said CCbenefits spokesperson Kjell Christopherson.Christopherson said the $253 million wage figure was determined by adding together data from three sources:-$14.8 million in CMC salaries and wages. Colorado Mountain College employs 390 full-time and 1,500 part-time faculty and staff.-$5.1 million from a economic multiplier effect, which says for every $1 CMC pays in wages, 35 cents in wages are created for non-college employees in the community.-$243 million in “value added” wages from CMC graduates dating back to 1972.Christopherson said value added is the difference between what a non-graduate and a graduate earns in a variety of careers and professions. For example, a CMC graduate in the nursing program might earn $5,000 more per year than a non-graduate of the same age.”Education translates into higher earnings,” Christopherson said.Christopherson said CMC provided the data on graduates who live in the college district.Districtwide, all residents together earn $4.6 billion, the study says. The study also looks at how CMC benefits businesses by providing a trained work force, and shows that CMC students have completed more than 3.4 million credit hours during the past 30 years.Dr. Robert Dunker, president of Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City, Iowa, said his college recently received its own CCbenefits study. Dunker said one of the items that jumped out at him is the 1.9 million credit hours students at his college have completed in the past 30 years.Like CMC, Western Iowa provides education and training that students can quickly apply in the work force. “When your car breaks down, a community college graduate will fix it. When your furnace breaks down, a community college graduate will fix it,” Dunker said.People with higher education are less likely to smoke or abuse alcohol, draw welfare or unemployment benefits, or commit crimes, according to the study’s executive summary. “This translates into associated dollar savings (avoided costs) amounting to some $19 per credit per year, counted as an indirect benefit of CMC education,” the summary states.Breaking down the avoided costs farther, the study says CMC district and service area employers will see health-related absenteeism decline by 5,498 days per year, with a corresponding annual savings of $600,000.”The state will benefit from the health related savings of 321 fewer smokers and 76 fewer alcohol abusers,” the study says.The study also claims incarceration drops with each year of higher education. In the CMC district and service area, 59 fewer individuals will be incarcerated per year as a result of community college education, the study claims, resulting in an annual savings of $648,377.There will also be 20 fewer people on welfare, and 58 fewer people drawing unemployment benefits per year, the study says.Dewton conceded the social impacts section of the study might be more applicable to a large college district than CMC. “It’s up to us to pick out the salient points,” she said.CCbenefits, was established in 2000 in cooperation with the Association of Community College Trustees, said the firm’s Web site. The Association of Community College Trustees is a nonprofit advocacy group which represents 1,200 junior colleges in the U.S., Canada and England.Christopherson said the CCbenefits study conducted for CMC has been subjected to peer review, and was field tested in more than 160 community college systems throughout the United States.
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