A new study found South Suburban College contributed a great deal of economic development and jobs to the Southland region.

The community college in South Holland was found to have $31.7 million in operating expenditures, $14.4 million in compensation and 427 jobs associated with $59.4 million in economic output. The study, by Northern Illinois University’s Center for Governmental Studies, found community colleges overall had $3.5 billion in economic output in Illinois, supporting more than 43,000 jobs across the state.

“I believe our country has given greater voice in recent years to the significant impact community colleges have educationally and culturally, but oftentimes the least understood and least measured effect is economically,” said Frank Zuccarelli, chairman of the South Suburban College Board of Trustees. “The detailed research that was conducted through this study revealed some amazing numbers relating to the positive economic value of community colleges in Illinois, and specifically here in the south suburban region.”

The study found South Suburban College students who completed a two-year program without going on to get a four-year degree increased their lifetime earnings by $525,000, generating a 23.5% return on investment.

About 86.6% of South Suburban graduates land a job in their field within a year of graduation while 87.3% are still employed in the profession after a decade, according to the study.

“The study confirms what we already know to be true of community colleges — they are an accessible, attainable opportunity to change your life,” said Lynette Stokes, president of South Suburban College. “The data demonstrates this value everywhere, including within disadvantaged communities. By changing lives community colleges have the power to change communities.”

Illinois community colleges have pledged $40 million over the last two years through the Workforce Equity Initiative to address gaps in employment and education among Black and other minority communities across the state. The study found a degree increased the earnings of Black students by 47% and Latinx students by 57%.

“It is clear that community colleges remain a solid return on investment for local communities and the students that use them,” Illinois Community College Board Executive Director Brian Durham said. “Our system plays a vital role in meeting the needs of Illinois’ workforce by providing quality training and education and gives students a greater opportunity to earn higher wages in countless industries throughout the state.”

Source: www.nwitimes.com