College: ‘We’re a revenue generator’

Illinois taxpayers get a good return on their investment by supporting Lewis and Clark Community College, according to a study commissioned by the rural Illinois college. Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. estimates a 6 percent return on investment for local taxpayers, reports The Telegraph.

This means that for every dollar of state or local tax money invested in the college, the return will be $1.70, with an estimated payback of 18.4 years.

“Essentially what this study reveals is that Lewis and Clark is a revenue generator,” said Tom Wunderle, the college’s director of institutional planning and effectiveness. “We put back into our local economy each year more than we take in tax dollars.”

According to the consultants, positive economic returns are generally not expected from government investments, and an even smaller rate of return equal to 3 percent is considered favorable.

Completing an associate’s degree can increase earnings by $9,700 per year over the course of a lifetime, the study estimated. This represents a 17.4 percent rate of return on a student’s investment of time and money, with an 8.7-year payback period.

Lewis and Clark graduates become nurses, dental hygienists, police officers, firefighters, paralegals, automotive technicians and process operations technicians, among other professions.

“The majority of our graduates stay in the area,” President Dale Chapman said. “That is what really multiplies the impact we have economically on our district.”

The college also has boosted the local economy by developing training programs for ConocoPhillips and Olin Corporation.