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Alabama Community, Technical Colleges Make Impact on State's Economy



A new report on the state’s 27 community and technical colleges estimates the Alabama Community College System’s total economic impact to be about $2.4 billion, as reported by The Huntsville Times.
J.F. Drake State Technical College shows an impact of more than $35 million and 8.1 return on state investment, which is above average.
According to the report, Calhoun Community College had the highest return on state investment at 12.1, while the return on investment for the entire system was reported to be 7.0. That means for every $1 of state appropriations, the system contributed $6 of additional goods and services to Alabama’s economy.
The report, “Economic Impact and Return on Investment Analysis: Alabama Community College System,” was prepared by Dr. M. Keivan Devari, an economics professor at Auburn University at Montgomery, and Barbara Buchanan, a research specialist at AUM. It was prepared for the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education.
The primary data covered fiscal years 2008-2010, with the data averaged over that period. Detailed financial data and student enrollment information was collected from each of the schools.
According to the report, Calhoun’s impact on the state was more than $279 million, while its state appropriation averaged about $23 million.
State appropriation to Drake State was listed at $4.3 million.
The results confirm the college’s belief that Drake State “indeed contributes significantly to the economy of the state,” said Drake State President Dr. Helen McAlpine. Drake State’s ROI of 8.1 is higher than the system average, she said.
“We also believe that our impact is even greater when the results of our training programs are measured for the value on the buying power of our graduates,” McAlpine said in a statement. “With our one-year and two-year technical programs, we are inserting economic multipliers into the economy every semester.
“By a conservative estimate derived from information posted on the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations website, our graduates from the past five years are contributing $35 million annually to the local economy,” McAlpine said.
The report’s authors say the raw numbers in the study show the system is “a major employer and provider of jobs.” The system has 7,399 full-time jobs and an annual operating budget, adjusted for depreciation and interest payments, of $702 million.
The system “acts as a powerful economic catalyst to the state’s industrial recruiting initiatives.”
In the report, other area schools, their economic impact and ROI are Athens State University, nearly $109 million, 8.5; Northeast Alabama Community College in Rainsville, $57.6 million, 8.1; and Snead State Community College in Boaz, nearly $46.8 million, 7.2.

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