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Surry Community College Brings Big Return on Investment for Surry and Yadkin Counties


College Represents $190.8 Million Annual Economic Impact

A new, in-depth economic impact analysis found Surry Community College has a $190.8 million annual economic impact in its service area of Surry and Yadkin counties – equivalent to supporting 4,131 jobs or one out of every 13 jobs and equal to approximately 5.6% of the total gross regional product. The analysis followed fiscal year 2019-2020.

Around 11 percent of students attending SCC originated from outside the region. Some of these students relocated to Surry and Yadkin counties to attend the college. In addition, some students are residents of Surry and Yadkin counties who would have left the region if not for the existence of SCC.

The money that these students spent toward living expenses in the SCC service area is attributable to SCC. The expenditures of relocated and retained students in the region during fiscal year 2019-2020, added approximately $5.9 million in income for the SCC service area economy, which is equivalent to supporting 159 jobs.

The high-demand career pathways quantified in the report include jobs and programs related to Viticulture & Enology, Electrical Systems, Mechatronics, Nursing and Welding.

Over the years, students gained new skills, making them more productive workers, by studying at SCC. Today, thousands of these former students are employed in Surry and Yadkin counties. The accumulated impact of former students currently employed in the SCC service area workforce amounted to $164 million in added income for the SCC service area economy, which is equivalent to supporting 3,273 jobs.

Payroll and benefits to support SCC’s day-to-day operations amounted to $17.4 million. The college’s non-pay expenditures amounted to $10.1 million. The net impact of operations spending by the college in Surry and Yadkin counties during the analysis year was approximately $20.8 million in added income, which is equivalent to supporting 699 jobs.

“We are incredibly proud of the economic impact that Surry Community College has for its students, alumni and employees, and ultimately businesses in Surry and Yadkin counties,” said SCC President Dr. David Shockley.

Students invest their own money and time in their education to pay for tuition, books, and supplies. While some students were employed while attending the college, students overall forewent earnings that they would have generated had they been in full employment instead of learning. Summing these direct outlays and opportunity costs yields a total of $22.5 million in present value student costs.

In return, students will receive a present value of $112.8 million in increased earnings over their working lives. This translates to a return of five dollars in higher future earnings for every dollar that students invest in their education at SCC. The corresponding annual rate of return is 24.4 percent.

Taxpayers provided $20.3 million of state and local funding to SCC in fiscal year 2019-2020. In return, taxpayers will receive an estimated present value of $28.5 million in added tax revenue stemming from the students’ higher lifetime earnings and the increased output of businesses. Savings to the public sector add another estimated $2.1 million in benefits due to a reduced demand for government-funded social services in North Carolina. For every tax dollar spent educating students attending SCC, taxpayers will receive an average of $1.50 in return over the course of the students’ working lives. In other words, taxpayers enjoy an annual rate of return of 4.5 percent.

People in North Carolina invested $47.9 million in SCC in fiscal year 2019-2020. This includes the college’s expenditures, student expenses, and student opportunity costs. In return, the state of North Carolina will receive an estimated present value of $315.7 million in added state revenue over the course of the students’ working lives. North Carolina will also benefit from an estimated $7.1 million in present value social savings related to reduced crime, lower welfare and unemployment, and increased health and well-being across the state. For every dollar society invests in SCC, an average of $6.70 in benefits will accrue to North Carolina over the course of the students’ careers.

With support from the North Carolina General Assembly, leaders from the N.C. Association of Community College Presidents, the N.C. Community College System Office, the Center for Applied Research, N.C. State’s Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, and the John M. Belk Endowment formed to collaborate with national research leader, Emsi Burning Glass, to produce a regional economic impact study for each of the state’s 58 community colleges, as well as an overall statewide report.

The studies found that each of North Carolina’s community colleges pump millions of dollars into the regions they serve - creating jobs, wealth, and opportunities for local residents. North Carolina’s 58 community colleges represent a combined $19 billion in annual impact on the state’s economy and support one out of every 19 jobs in the state.

“The return on investment in our community colleges is unmatched - not only for students and parents, but taxpayers and our entire state economy,” said N.C. Community College System President Thomas Stith. “We are proud of the contributions of our graduates and employees to enhance and strengthen our North Carolina communities.”

The economic impact study found for every dollar the state invests in North Carolina’s Community Colleges, the state gains $7.50 in added incomes and social savings. The colleges generate nearly double the revenue from what they take in from the taxpayers. For every $1 the state invests, taxpayers get $1.90 back in added tax revenues and public sector savings.

“We’re pleased the reports so clearly quantify and demonstrate the major economic impact North Carolina’s 58 community colleges, faculty, students, and alumni have in each of their respective areas,” said Dr. Mark Poarch, President of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, and the current President of the N.C. Association of Community College Presidents. “Our colleges offer a big return on investment for students and employers, policymakers and taxpayers. We are grateful for the continued confidence in what we do and for continued commitment to making smart investments in our state.”

“It’s been a privilege to have worked and supported our education partners on this study from the beginning as I was confident the results would blow us away. And it did. I think it’s fair to say not many government-funded programs generate more revenue than they take in from taxpayers,” said State Senator Deanna Ballard, Chair of the Senate Education Committee. “It’s critical that our high school graduates and adults looking to gain new skills take advantage of the incredible opportunities that their local community college provides.”

Community college graduates have higher incomes that contribute to a larger tax base and a growing state. Students who graduate with an associate degree from a N.C. community college will see an increase in earnings of up to $7,000 or more each year compared to a person with a high school diploma or equivalent. If the student builds upon their associate degree to then earn a bachelor’s degree, their annual income also doubles on average.

“Our community colleges are among the state’s most critical assets to leverage and accelerate the education and upskilling of our State’s homegrown talent,” said MC Belk Pilon, President and Board Chair of the John M. Belk Endowment. “As we look ahead, we must continue and accelerate investments in our 58 community colleges to ensure we increase access to economic mobility, prepare North Carolinians for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and further grow local and state economies.”

More information about the statewide economic impact studies can be found at including the state report, as well as reports, fact sheets, and summaries for each of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges.

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