Southwest Tennessee Community College has $126.6 million impact on the Mid-South

Community reaps $6.90 for every dollar invested in the college in 2016-2017 according to new economic impact study.

Results of a recent economic impact study reveal Southwest Tennessee Community College added $126.6 million in annual income to the Mid-South economy in 2016-2017, supporting nearly 2,500 jobs.

Southwest serves over 13,000 credit and noncredit students annually. “The flow of spending through the college, our students and alumni has a significant and positive effect throughout the community,” President Tracy D. Hall said. “But these numbers capture only a small part of what Southwest contributes to Memphis and surrounding communities.  Our biggest impacts are educating residents and serving as a workforce development engine and pipeline.”

Memphis, TN Aerial View

Emsi conducted the research study.  Emsi is a labor market research firm that provides data to professionals in higher education, economic development, workforce development, talent acquisition, and site selection. The firm used detailed revenue and expenditure data from 2016 to determine how much income, how many jobs, and how much state and local tax revenue are generated as a result of Southwest spending in the Mid-South.

According to the study, Southwest employed more than 1,126 full-time and part-time employees in 2016-2017, including faculty, staff, and students; paid $41.4 million in salaries and benefits, and spent another $40 million for day-to-day operations. Total operating expenditures were $70.2 million, enough to support over 1,500 jobs in the Mid-South.

“When our employees spend their paychecks, they’re buying homes, groceries, and other goods and services that support local jobs and in turn create income for those business owners and workers,” President Hall said.

Results indicate Southwest is an outstanding investment, with returns on investment exceeding those of the stock market. For example, for every tax dollar invested in the college, taxpayers reaped $1.40 in added taxes and public sector savings and the Mid-South benefitted with $6.90 in added state revenue and social savings.

A Southwest education is an even better investment for students.  Graduates with an associate degree earned nearly $18,000 more a year than those with a high school diploma.  That’s $8.70 in annual lifetime earnings for every dollar they invest in a Southwest education.

Southwest alumni added $45 million to the economy, an economic boost similar to hosting the World Series eight times. And students’ daily expenditures amounted to more than $11 million, enough to buy groceries for 800 families for a year.

Southwest experienced a 10 percent boost in enrollment in 2017 after 7 consecutive years of decline and a projects to maintain the enrollment level this fall with over 9,300 students.

Read the full economic report.