Palm Beach State College Is A Local Economic Engine

Palm Beach State College puts $1.1 billion into the Palm Beach County economy each year, a new study shows.

In addition to providing affordable access to higher education and job training for 49,000 students each year, this economic impact also makes PBSC a huge economic engine.

The study, released last week by the Council of Presidents for the Florida College System, is part of a statewide analysis of the economic impact of the 28 colleges comprising the FCS. Together, the FCS puts an additional $26.6 billion per year into the state’s economy.

“This study reinforces the importance of our existence as an open door educational institution and as a major provider of job training for local residents,” Palm Beach State College President Dr. Dennis Gallon said. “For 80 years, Palm Beach State College has contributed tremendously to the growth of Palm Beach County by providing a well-trained workforce. We will continue to expand and enhance our programs to ensure that we’re meeting the needs of our students, employers and the community. In the end, everyone wins.”

To determine PBSC’s economic impact, Economic Modeling Specialists International, commissioned by the Council of Presidents and the FCS Foundation, analyzed the college from two key standpoints — investment and economic growth. It looked at such factors as return on investments from the perspective of the students, taxpayers and society as well as the income that pours into the economy because of college operations, and the increased earnings alumni generate after completing their education and training.

For example, for every dollar students invest in a Palm Beach State College education, their income throughout their career increases $5.60, the report found. In addition, every dollar of state money invested in PBSC returns $2.50.

The report examined the correlation between higher education and social behaviors, citing studies that indicate that the more advanced an individual’s education, the least likely he or she is to commit crimes, smoke, abuse alcohol, or require welfare and unemployment benefits.

The economic impact from Palm Beach State College’s operations alone is $94.7 million. The college employed 1,099 full-time and 1,509 part-time faculty and staff in the 2011-12 year, with an annual payroll of $92.4 million. The college also spent $65.9 million for supplies and services, about 47 percent of that in Palm Beach County. The activities of PBSC’s 2011-12 student body generated $125.3 million in labor income in the state economy each year, according to the report.

The new study comes at critical time for Palm Beach State College and community colleges across the country, which have been recognized by President Barack Obama and other state and federal legislators as crucial to getting workers trained or retrained for emerging industries in an economy still recovering from a recession.

Florida’s unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in January, which is the lowest since November 2008, according to figures released this month by the Florida Department of Economic Recovery and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.