For officials of Butler County Community College, a recently completed economic impact study that demonstrates BCCC as a financial generator for the region only underscored what they already knew.
"We were well aware of our great value and great contribution," said spokeswoman Susan Changnon. "Now, we can share it with everyone else."
But, the data collected and compiled in the $9,500 study is known as the "economic contribution study," financed by the college as a way of measuring learning outcomes -- an assessment that's important to the college's accrediting organizations, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The report was shared in recent weeks with Butler County Commissioners and state officials, from which BCCC receives funding.
Among some of the statistics in the report:
• Students see a significant rate of return on their educational investment. For every dollar a student invests in education, he receives a cumulative $5.10 over his working career. The average annual income of the typical associate's degree graduate in Butler County at the midpoint in his career is $44,000, or 35 percent higher than the salary of a person with a high school diploma.
• An estimated 97 percent of students stay in Pennsylvania and contribute to its economic growth. By 2021, it is anticipated that there will be about 33,400 new and replacement jobs available in Butler County. About 28 percent of these jobs will require an education level equal to an associate's degree or greater.
• From a state economic perspective, students generated $18.7 million in labor income during the 2010-11 fiscal year. Once students join the workforce, they contribute an annual $9.3 million in taxable income each year. Together higher student income and associated effects on business productivity add $28.1 million in income annually to the state economy.
• Taxpayers see a rate of return of 12 percent on their investment in BCCC by increasing tax revenues from an enlarged economy and reducing the demand on taxpayer-supported social services. Higher student earnings and associated tax increases generate about $2.8 million in added tax revenue each year.
• The estimated social cost savings to the Pennsylvania public is $1.4 million a year by virtue of improved lifestyle behaviors, including reduced incidences of absenteeism, alcohol abuse and smoking, lower probability of committing crime and fewer welfare and unemployment claims.
• The college's annual payroll and spending on supplies generate $16.2 million for the economy. The accumulated credits achieved by former students over the past 30 years translated to $180.5 million in added regional income to Butler County due to the higher earnings of students and increased output of businesses.
The total economic growth effect, based on college operations and the productivity of its former students, equals $196.7 million, or about 2.4 percent of the total Butler County economy.
"This is good news on many fronts," said college president Nick Neupauer, in a written statement. "It reinforces the value of a BC3 education to our students. For our local and statewide elected officials, as well as taxpayers, it validates that their investments to the college are paying huge dividends."
The report was prepared by Economic Modeling Specialists International of Moscow, Idaho.
"Because we're taxpayer supported, we really wanted to be able to show to our stakeholders what we know about BC3's value," Ms. Changnon said. "We consider ourselves accountable for meeting our mission to be affordable, accessible and of high quality."
The last economic impact study was done six years ago. "We found it to be a valuable tool and one that we wanted to have at our disposal again now. A lot has changed in six years," she said.
The college has about 4,200 students at campuses in Butler Township, Cranberry, New Castle and Hermitage.
Karen Kane: firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-772-9180.