Economic Impact Study: CPCC benefits students, county, state

last modified Nov 02, 2011 05:20 PM

An economic impact study conducted for Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) and other North Carolina colleges by Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., indicates CPCC makes a significant contribution to the lives of its students and the economic growth and wellbeing of Mecklenburg County.

According to the study’s results, for every dollar students invest in an education from CPCC, they receive $3.10 in higher future income over the span of their careers. At the same time, every dollar of state or local tax money invested in CPCC returns $2.

The study also found the combined economic impact of CPCC’s operations, student/graduate earnings and the increased business production generated by CPCC students and graduates equals $918.1 million a year, about 1.4 percent of the total Mecklenburg County economy.

Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. (EMSI) looked at a range of data, including 2009-10 academic and financial reports from CPCC, industry and employment data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and a variety of studies and surveys relating to education and social behavior. The study’s aim was to quantify the role CPCC plays in promoting economic development, enhancing students’ careers and impacting the quality of life in Mecklenburg County.

“This economic impact study confirms what Mecklenburg County citizens and leaders have known for almost half a century. CPCC contributes to the quality of life in Mecklenburg County in so many positive ways, including making the county economically stronger,” said Dr. Tony Zeiss, CPCC president. “CPCC is making a real contribution by providing workforce development that helps this region attract new businesses and jobs, by developing training programs for local businesses and by training and educating the Mecklenburg workforce of today and tomorrow.”  

The report explains that community college students and graduates expand the economic base through their higher incomes, while the businesses that employ them become more productive through the students’ added skills. Through these benefits and “associated ripple effects,” CPCC students/graduates contribute an estimated $157.9 million in taxable income to the North Carolina economy each year.

In clarifying its economic growth analysis, the EMSI report explains CPCC impacts the local economy in three primary ways: 1) the College’s local purchases and wages paid to employees; 2) through the spending of students from outside Mecklenburg County; and 3) through the increased skills base of the local workforce. This analysis found CPCC operations add $78.1 million a year to the Mecklenburg
economy. The spending of CPCC students from outside the county generates approximately $13.3
million for the Mecklenburg economy. Combining these totals with $826.7 million CPCC students add each year in earnings and increased business production equals $918.1 million CPCC adds to the Mecklenburg County economy each year.

The study also looked at socioeconomic indicators on which CPCC has influence. Citing other research, the CPCC study points out that as persons achieve higher levels of education they are less likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, draw welfare or unemployment benefits or commit crimes. These lifestyle choices save the public in avoided costs for healthcare, government subsistence and incarceration. Based on the number of CPCC graduates in the workforce, these associated dollar savings to the public equal approximately $6.7 million annually.

To read to EMSI economic impact report, see the CPCC website at

Central Piedmont Community College is the largest community college in North Carolina, offering close to 300 degree and certification programs, customized corporate training, market-focused continuing education, and special interest classes. CPCC is academically, financially and geographically accessible to all citizens of Mecklenburg County. In 2002, the National Alliance of Business named CPCC the
Community College of the Year for its response to the workforce and technology needs of local employers and job seekers through innovative educational and training strategies.