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Southern Union Generates $150M Annual Economic Impact

(WADLEY) — Students and alumni of colleges within the Alabama Community College System add $6.6 billion to Alabama’s economy, supporting one out of every 27 jobs in the state, according to an economic impact report released Monday.

The independent, 102-page report by LightCast estimates the Alabama Community College System directly impacts 98,923 jobs in the state, representing about 2.7% of Alabama’s gross state product. Additionally, taxpayers see a net benefit of $1.1 billion in added tax revenue from students’ higher lifetime earnings and increased output to businesses.

The results of this economic impact study reinforce that Southern Union State Community College is a major contributor to the economic base of the communities that it serves in jobs created, business volume generated, and personal income earned.

The analysis of this study on the College’s service area (Clay, Randolph, Chambers, Lee, Tallapoosa and Macon counties) indicated that operations and student spending of Southern Union, together with the enhanced productivity of its alumni, generated $150.3 million in added income for the SUSCC Service Area economy and helps support 2,787 jobs or one out of every 49 jobs in the region.

The impact of the daily spending of Southern Union students attracted to or retained in the region added $10.4 million to the local economy, which is enough to buy 838 families a year’s worth of groceries.

Although SUSCC has 449 full-time and part-time faculty and sta?, the net impact of the college’s operations spending added $28.7 million in income to the regional economy in FY 2020-21.

“These data demonstrates that we are improving the lives of our students and the prosperity of our community,” stated Todd Shackett, president of SUSCC. “It is our mission to help citizens develop the skills they need in order to build the framework of our area’s economy; this report shows that we are making a difference.”

Over the years, students have studied at Southern Union and entered or re-entered the workforce with newly-acquired knowledge and skills. Today, thousands of these former students are employed in the SUSCC Service Area. The net impact of Southern Union’s former students currently employed in the regional workforce amounted to $ 111.3 million in added income in FY 2020-21.

The study also estimated that the average Southern Union associate degree graduate from FY 2020-21 will see annual earnings that are $8,100 higher than a person with a high school diploma or equivalent working in Alabama. Over a working lifetime, the bene?ts of the associate degree over a high school diploma will amount to an undiscounted value of $348,300 in higher earnings per graduate.

“Our community receives a strong return on investment when they invest in our students,” said Shackett. “For every dollar invested in Southern Union in FY 2020-21, people in Alabama will receive $ 10. 40 in return, for as long as Southern Union’s FY 2020-21 students remain active in the state workforce.”

With campuses in Wadley, Opelika and Valley, Southern Union State Community College is the second oldest community college in the state and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associates degrees.

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