Study reveals SPSCC generates $316.1 million impact on Thurston County economy

Thursday, October 13, 2016

South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) today revealed a recent study measuring the economic impact and return on investment (ROI) for the college in Fiscal Year 2014-15.  The study, completed by Economic Modeling Specialists International (Emsi), stated that SPSCC had a $316.1 million impact on Thurston County, which is approximately 2.9% of the total gross regional product (GRP) and equal to 5,223 jobs.

SPSCC president Tim Stokes stated, “We know about the impact we have on the lives of our students, so we are happy to see this impact validated through this data that reveals the tremendous value of higher education in Thurston County.”

The Economic Impact Analysis dissected the college’s operations spending, student spending, and the impact of alumni who remain in the region and purchase goods and services.  Combined, the total impact last fiscal year was $316.1 million. Broken down,

  • $34 million comes from day-to-day operations spending, payroll, and benefits;
  • $12.6 million comes from current students; and
  • $269.4 million is generated from alumni working in the region.

Additionally, the report presented an Investment Analysis that proves significant ROI to students, taxpayers, and society as a whole.

The study states that, “For every one dollar students invest in SPSCC in the form of out-of-pocket expenses and forgone time and money, they receive a cumulative of $3.60 in higher future earnings, or a 15.4% average annual rate of return.”

Return for state and local taxpayers are nearly as strong as it is for students—SPSCC returns more to government budgets than it costs.  For every one dollar of public money invested in SPSCC, taxpayers receive a cumulative value of $3.10 over the course of the students’ working lives; an average annual rate of return of 10.4%.

Though harder to quantify, the report shows that from a societal perspective, there is a statistical correlation between education and an increased state economic base. People who attend college typically have a higher quality of life, which generates social savings in areas of health and wellness, crime, and unemployment. When considered along with the economic impact numbers for students and alumni living and working in the region, the reports shows that for every dollar invested in education at SPSCC by students, taxpayers, or the college itself, an average of $9.60 in benefits will accrue to society in Washington State.

“SPSCC creates a significant positive impact on the business community and generates a return on investment to its major stakeholder groups—students, taxpayers, and society,” stated Emsi.

Stokes added, “Education is a key driver of our local economy. Industries need a highly skilled workforce to thrive and this study proves that when businesses can find that workforce right in their own backyard, everybody wins.”

More information about the Emsi study can be found at