The Economic Value of Santa Rosa Junior College

According to the results of a new economic impact study, Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) generates an impressive $1.6 billion in increased economic activity in Sonoma County and provides a strong return on investment for students, taxpayers and the community as a whole.

The study found that for every dollar that individual students invested in SRJC, they received a cumulative return of $2.50 in higher future wages. In addition, for every dollar taxpayers invested in SRJC, they received $4.50 in benefits. That makes SRJC a very unusual public institution: one that generates more revenue than it takes.

SRJC’s study was conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) and was part of a statewide effort to measure the economic benefits generated by the state’s community colleges. The local study measured the overall economic impact and return on investment for students and taxpayers in Sonoma County during the 2014-15 fiscal year. The study considered a variety of factors, including spending by students, college employees, and alumni who remain in the area after graduation.

The total investment made by students to attend SRJC in 2014-15, including tuition, fees, books and supplies, was an estimated $52.7 million. In return for this investment, SRJC students will receive “a present value of $1.2 billion in increased earnings over their working lives,” the study indicated.

SRJC has the highest taxpayer return, 14.8%, of 15 California community colleges that the researchers studied recently. That’s more than double the S&P 500 average return of 7.2% over the last 10 years, according to Forbes.

“(Sonoma County) taxpayers will receive an estimated present value of $492.2 million in added tax revenue stemming from the students’ higher lifetime earnings and the increased output of businesses. Savings to the public sector add another estimated $57.9 million in (local) benefits due to a reduced demand for government-funded social services in California,” according to the study.

The study states, “The presence of (Santa Rosa Junior College) expands the state economy and creates a wide range of positive social benefits (reduced crime, lower welfare, lower unemployment, and improved health) that accrue to taxpayers and society in general within California.”

Of the $1.6 billion generated overall by the college, alumni created the greatest impact, generating $1.4 billion in added income to Sonoma County’s economy, the equivalent to creating 23,217 new jobs.

SRJC Superintendent and President Dr. Frank Chong commented, “SRJC is developing our ‘2030 Facilities Master Plan: A Blueprint for Excellence,’ thanks to Sonoma County voters’ support of Measure H. And we’re approaching our 100th anniversary in 2018. This important study will help guide SRJC as we plan for decades of higher education in a changing Sonoma County.”

“We also plan to use the data to help us build even closer working relationships with businesses, organizations and government agencies, as they see the economic benefits of SRJC in the community,” he added.

More information can be found in the following reports:

Executive Summary
Main Report
Fact Sheet
Impact on Local Business Community
Return on Investment to Society
Return on Investment to Students
Return on Investment to Taxpayers

 About EMSI and the SRJC Study  

The study was conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI), which has conducted studies for many other community colleges throughout California. EMSI is a leading provider of economic impact studies and labor market data to educational institutions, workforce planners and regional developers in the U.S. and internationally. Since 2000, EMSI has completed over 1,200 economic impact studies for educational institutions in four countries.

Data and assumptions used in the study are based on several sources, including the FY 2014-15 academic and financial reports from the college, industry and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Education, outputs of EMSI’s Social Accounting Matrix (SAM) model, and a variety of studies and surveys relating education to social behavior. The study applies a conservative methodology and follows standard practice using only the most recognized indicators of investment effectiveness and economic impact. 

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