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Study: Taxpayers get 12% economic return from Butler County Community College

| Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 12:42 a.m.

Not only is Butler County Community College a good investment for students, but the surrounding region benefits economically as well, according to a recently released study.

The study, “The Economic Contribution of Butler County Community College,” was commissioned by BC3 for $9,500 to determine the economic impact of the community college on the state and local economies.

The last time the college had a similar study completed was six years ago.

“We felt that things have changed so much,” said Susan Changnon, director of communications and marketing at the community college. “Cost efficient education is more important than ever. We really felt that it had been too long given the current economic situation.”

Compiling economic impact studies like this is not uncommon for colleges, she said. Most institutions update their studies every one to three years, Changnon said.

The college had several reasons behind commissioning the study, Changnon said, such as finding a way to quantify the value of an education at BC3.

The college is funded in part by tax dollars, so residents have a vested interest in the economic impact.

“We want to be able to show our students, parents, taxpayers, business people and community that we are making an impact on the region,” Changnon said.

According to the study, taxpayers see a 12 percent rate of return on their investment in BC3.

That's because graduates help to increase tax revenues from an expanded economy and reduce the demand on taxpayer-supported social services. Higher student earnings and the associated tax increases from those earnings generate about $2.8 million in added tax revenue each year.

This proof of performance is also helpful for college administrators when they look to ask for grants or donations from alumni, as well as public funding.

The Butler County Commissioners saw a copy of the economic impact study in October, Changnon said.

She added that the college is also sharing the study with its students.

“To let them see the value of education,” Changnon said. “There have been a lot of questions coming up lately about the changing face of higher education.”

The study a determined that for every dollar students spend on their education at BC3, they receive $5.10 over the course of their careers.

Compared to someone who has a high school diploma, the average annual income of the typical associate's degree graduate in Butler County is $44,000. That's 35 percent higher than the wage earner with a high school diploma.

This study is also good news for the local business community, and the glowing study results don't surprise Joe Taylor, chairman of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce board.

“The college develops a well-trained work force,” he said. “Especially in the environment of technology, which is so much more a part of the workplace now. The skills that can be developed at BC3 are absolutely critical.”

Taylor said it “absolutely” benefits the local economy to have a work force with higher education.

He said that the classes the community college teaches, as well as the work-force programs and job training help contribute to a strong business community in Butler County.

Changnon says the study also shows BC3's statewide economic impact.

According to the study, BC3 students generated $18.7 million in labor income during 2010-11, adding to the state economy.

Once BC3's students join the work force, they contribute an annual $9.3 million in taxable income each year. And higher student income and associated effects on business productivity add $28.1 million in income annually to the state economy.

“It really is good news on all front,” Changnon said. “Certainly, we were looking to affirm our mission.”

Kate Wilcox is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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