State colleges demonstrate extent of economic impact

March 19, 2013 | By More

400-Joe-Pickens-SJRSCHistoric City News received a copy of a study released yesterday indicating that Florida’s 28 state college campuses generate $26.6 billion in economic activity while providing tens of thousands of young people an education they might not otherwise be able to afford.

Joe Pickens, president of St Johns River State College which has a campus in St Augustine, also serves as chairman of the Council of Presidents of the Florida College System that released the economic impact study.

“Florida’s colleges are providing exactly the kind of boost our state needs,” Pickens told reporters. “Students in small towns often can’t commute to a state university; so the geographic distribution and open-enrollment policy provides them an affordable, quality education.”

The study was prepared by Economic Modeling Specialists International, and indicates an 88 percent rate of job placement or continuing higher education for state college graduates. The study showed high placement rates in nursing, teaching and business jobs — with average salaries of $45,186 for graduates with bachelor degrees and $44,095 for those with associate in science degrees.

State Representative Marti Coley, who is a Chipola State College teacher and speaker pro tempore of the House, told the group of college presidents and other higher education officials assembled to discuss the study, “Approximately 93 percent of Florida College System students remain in Florida and contribute to our overall economic growth.”

The study said increased earnings, spending by students and economic activity by the colleges had an impact of $26.6 billion a year.

In a statement from Florida Governor Rick Scott, he said, “I am proud that all state colleges offering four-year degrees accepted my recent challenge to produce baccalaureate degree programs costing no more than $10,000.” Scott said his pending budget proposals would increase funding of the 28 state colleges by $74 million.

Aside from money, David Hart, executive president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said the colleges are helping to close “the talent gap” between workforce needs in science, technology, education and math.

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