JOLIET — Joliet Junior College graduates generate millions in tax revenues and a JJC education increases earnings for workers, according to a statewide economic impact report.
In a 2014 report to the Illinois Community College Board, the Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies found community colleges produce substantial economic benefits for the state. Community colleges benefit businesses, graduates generate billions in tax revenue and their earnings increase by 30 percent over their pre-enrollment wages, according to the report.
JJC’s total economic impact in the regional economy in fiscal year 2012 was about $106.3 million, with 1,902 jobs, according to its own report.
“We’re built to be adaptable and dynamic,” JJC Spokeswoman Kelly Rohder said. “We absolutely exist to respond to the needs of the community we serve while still providing the same kind of high-quality education [as universities].”
JJC makes an impact in Will County by partnering with the Workforce Investment Board of Will County to help train job seekers and employees, Rohder said. It also makes an impact by partnering with Will County Center for Economic Development, a nonprofit organization responsible for attracting and retaining jobs.
In February, JJC worked with state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and area energy companies to create a new operations engineering and technician degree program. The competitive program was created in response to a growing need for more employees for energy and industrial companies in the face of potential waves of retirement.
According to JJC’s economic impact report, students who completed their JJC education in fiscal year 2011 saw a $4,600 increase in earnings over their pre-enrollment wages. A 25-year-old JJC graduate can expect a total lifetime earnings gain of almost $535,000.
Those graduates go on to contribute millions in local, state and federal tax revenues, with JJC students who attended school in 2002 paying about $153 million in state taxes and $507 million in federal taxes between 2003 and 2012, according to the report.
Statewide, all students completing a community college education in the same fiscal year saw a gain of almost $3,587, a 30 percent increase over their pre-enrollment wages. Students who attended a community college in 2002 paid about $4 billion in state taxes and $13.2 billion in federal taxes between 2003 and 2012.
JJC has exceeded statewide averages for employment in some ways. In 2011, about 86 percent of JJC graduates were employed in Illinois, compared to 77 percent statewide.
A community college is one option for people looking for training and new skills at the Workforce Investment Board of Will County. Pat Fera, Workforce Board manager, said JJC helps them find programs that train people for occupations in demand in Will County.
“Because JJC is low cost and easy option, a lot of our job-seeking customers go to JJC for their training and we pay for that training,” Fera said.
Fera said JJC will help with work readiness programs that train people with soft skills employees seek. It also assists with helping youths who have dropped out of high school work toward a GED or equip them with marketable skills.
Fera said not many other workforce organizations nationwide have a partner as responsive to employer needs as JJC.
According to JJC’s economic impact report, JJC generates millions in local sales and wages annually, as well as offers 1,900 jobs. In fiscal year 2012, almost 1,200 full-time and part-time staff lived in communities surrounding JJC, with a total payroll of almost $6 million.