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CCAC creates significant positive impact on the region’s economy

CCAC signPITTSBURGH—As Southwestern Pennsylvania’s preeminent provider of career education and skills-based training, the Community College of Allegheny County’s impact extends far beyond the classroom. In addition to providing an affordable and high-quality education that paves the way to a more prosperous future for all students, the college delivers a significant positive impact on the business community and generates a return on investment for students, employers, taxpayers and the region as a whole.

A recent Emsi Economic Impact Study calculates the benefits received by each of these groups. In FY 2019–20, CCAC added $1.3 billion in income to the Allegheny County economy, a value approximately equal to 1.3% of the county’s total gross regional product (GRP). Expressed in terms of jobs, CCAC’s impact supported 15,705 jobs. For perspective, the activities of CCAC and its students support one out of every 57 jobs in Allegheny County.

“At CCAC, we are gratified to make such a valuable contribution, not only to the personal and professional lives of our students, but to the financial benefit of all residents and to the community as a whole,” said CCAC President Dr. Quintin Bullock. 

The study outlined four specific areas of economic impact that comprise the $1.3 billion figure: operations spending, construction spending, student spending and alumni. Regarding its operations spending impact, CCAC employs 1,900+ full-time and part-time faculty and staff. The net impact of the college’s operations spending added $123.2 million in income to the county economy. CCAC also invests in construction each year to maintain and enhance its facilities and meet its growing educational demands, generating a short-term infusion of spending and jobs in the county economy. The net impact of CCAC’s construction spending was $3.4 million in added income for Allegheny County.

In terms of student spending impact, approximately 36% of credit students attending CCAC originated from outside Allegheny County, and some of these students relocated to the county. In addition, some in-county students would have left the county for other educational opportunities if not for CCAC. The expenditures of relocated and retained students added $25.4 million in income to the county’s economy. Additionally, students have studied at CCAC and entered or re-entered the workforce with newly acquired knowledge and skills. Today, hundreds of thousands of these former students are employed in the county. The net impact of CCAC alumni employed in the county workforce amounted to $1.2 billion in added income in FY 2019–20.

The study also outlined three areas of investment impact. From a student perspective, as a return on their investment in a CCAC education, students will receive $614.5 million in increased earnings over their working lives. This translates to a return of $4.70 in higher future earnings for every dollar students invest in their education. Students’ average annual rate of return is 19.7%. Simply put, the average associate degree graduate from CCAC will see an increase in earnings of $11,000 each year compared to someone with a high school diploma or equivalent working in Pennsylvania.

From a taxpayer perspective, taxpayers also benefit from added tax revenue, stemming from students’ higher lifetime earnings and increased business output, amounting to $166.2 million. A reduced demand for government-funded services in Pennsylvania will add another $11.4 million in benefits to taxpayers. For every dollar of public money invested in CCAC, taxpayers will receive $2.50 in return over the course of students’ working lives. The average annual rate of return for taxpayers is 8.2%.

Lastly, from a social perspective, in FY 2019–20, Pennsylvania invested $232.8 million to support CCAC. In turn, the Pennsylvania economy will grow by $2.2 billion over the course of students’ working lives. Society will also benefit from $32.6 million in social savings related to health, crime, and income assistance in the state. For every dollar invested in CCAC in FY 2019–20, people in Pennsylvania will receive $9.50 in return for as long as CCAC’s FY 2019–20 students remain active in the state workforce.