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Pikes Peak Community College boosts region's economy, study finds

November 7, 2017 Updated: November 8, 2017 at 8:30 am
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Pikes Peak Community College "PPCC". Photo by Jeff Kearney.

A third-party analysis of the economic impact of the Colorado Community College System determined that Pikes Peak Community College contributed $380 million in added income to the Pikes Peak region in fiscal year 2015-2016.

That equaled about 1.2 percent of the gross regional product.

Statewide, the 14 colleges in the system contributed $5.8 billion, or about 2 percent of the gross product of Colorado.

"These numbers certainly are impressive," said PPCC President Lance Bolton. "But it's the stories behind these numbers - the transformations that we see at both a regional level with a thriving economic base and a personal level with more students realizing their dreams."

During the analysis year, PPCC spent $55.8 million on payroll and benefits for 1,233 full-time faculty, adjunct instructors and staff, and spent another $26.6 million on goods and services to carry out its day-to-day operations, according to the report.

"As the primary source of higher education for Colorado residents, our colleges create value in many ways," CCCS President Nancy McCallin said in a statement. "We are also employers and buyers of goods and services, and the living expenses of our students and employees benefit local businesses."

The study was conducted by Emsi, which performs economic impact studies and labor market data for educational institutions, workforce planners and regional developers.

The study is done about every five years.

Additional highlights from the report:

- For every $1 spent on education, PPCC students realize $3.60 in future earnings.

- For every $1 of public money spent on PPCC, taxpayers get a return of $8.30.

Enrollment at community colleges typically decreases when the economy is flourishing, but PPCC is defying that trend with increased enrollment this semester, officials noted.

After four years of declining enrollment, the college turned the corner this fall with 3 percent growth in full-time equivalent enrollment, with nearly 15,000 students on three campuses.

And after being near the bottom of Colorado community colleges in retention in 2010 - with a rate of 47.3 percent - PPCC has climbed near the top with a 52.6 percent retention rate.

As a result, graduation rates reached a record high last school year, with 3,711 career and technical associate degrees and certificates awarded. That's nearly 1,000 more than the previous academic year.

The regional impact report on PPCC can be found at ppcc.edu/impact.

Statewide results are at cccs.edu/economic-impact.

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