The Illinois Community College Board recently released a study showing the economic impact of the state’s community colleges at $3.5 billion and 43,316 jobs in 2020. Community college graduates earn an average annual rate of return of 27% on their investment in a degree or certificate.
Drilling down to the local level, Lincoln Land Community College spent $39.7 million on direct operations during fiscal year 2020 and employed 764 members of our communities. These direct impacts rippled through the economy creating additional jobs and economic activity. About 885 jobs in the district could be attributed to the college’s direct operations, with about $55.7 million in economic output. An additional $23.5 million was spent on items including new construction and renovations on campus, support of our Child Development Center, and auxiliary operations, generating additional jobs and dollars spent in our community.
Beyond the impacts of direct spending and employment, LLCC strengthens the regional economy by addressing employers’ workforce needs, training skilled workers for essential industries.
But what about the life changing impact on an individual student?
LLCC student LaCrea Lott was asked to share her story at the press conference called to announce the economic impact study. When she stepped up to the microphone, she said she found it hard to put her journey into words, but the word “life” kept sticking in her mind. So she broke the word down to its individual letters to describe how LLCC’s Workforce Equity Initiative program changed her life. Here are a few excerpts:
“L is for Level. I’ve leveled up! With the supports of the Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) like free tuition, technical help during the pandemic, and the flexible class schedule, I was able to successfully complete my Medical Assistant credential.
“I is for Intelligence. The WEI program gives students like me courage to acquire knowledge then apply the skills we learn to improve our lives. We also learned essential skills that aid us with communication, decision making and methods to manage stress.
“F is for faith. You must first have faith that you can achieve and conquer anything, especially in difficult times where you have to balance work, home and school. I have faith and know that one day I too will be a nurse practitioner, physician assistant or therapist.
“E is for education, employment and excellence. Before the WEI program, I had to maintain multiple jobs to provide daily needs. Programs such as WEI offer chances to students who may otherwise not have the means and support to successfully change their lives, the lives of their family and the community we live in.
“Hopefully programs such as this will continue to receive funding to help low-income families, especially minorities and the African American community. It feels good to see your peers with a similar upbringing reaching their goals and becoming successful.”
The economic impact study confirms that LLCC continues to provide a diverse workforce for the communities we serve. We work closely with our employers to provide workers with an array of skills needed for the economic growth of our district. We do this by offering affordable, accessible and quality education that changes lives and builds futures for students like LaCrea, and thousands of others.