Tyler Junior College brings in new money, more business, and provides the economy with educated workers that boost the Tyler and Smith County economy to a new level.
Tom Mullins, President and CEO of the Tyler Economic Development Council and of the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, explained how Tyler’s economy is infused with new money being poured into the higher education system.
“It brings in a lot of new money to Tyler in the form of tuition…to go to class and the books that they [students] have to buy and the supplies and the rent and groceries, ” said Mullins. “If students are working, then they’re taking the revenues from that and putting it into the higher education system and that supports the teachers and all of the activity that goes on at both campuses of TJC.”
Dr. Mike Metke discusses the hard numbers that TJC puts in to Tyler.
“The taxpayers pay about $14 million to support the college and TJC has a $99 million operating budget which means that about seven times more money comes back in to the community than what the community pays in taxes.”
Not only do supportive parents and working students provide money to the East Texas economy, the state helps by pouring outside money into the local economy. According to a state-wide study TJC took part in concerning the economic impact junior colleges have on communities in the 2008-09 reporting year, the state and local governments’ investment is worth it.
The results concluded that taxpayers see a return rate of 7.3 percent on their investment in TJC. Texas will also be able to pocket the $2.9 million it saves because of the social impact TJC students have on society. This is linked with improved health, reduced crime rates, and reduced welfare and unemployment.
Fred Peters, Director of Marketing and Public Affairs for TJC, spoke about the three pronged table the Tyler community sits on.
“I attended a conference a couple of weeks ago in Philadelphia and one of the directors of the Tourism Bureau said, ‘We look at Philadelphia as providing Beds, Meds, and Eds to keep the economy boosted,'” Peters said.
Peters went on to explain how Tyler’s own economy reflects that with the medical region, tourism, and the education provided by TJC and UT-Tyler.
TJC supplies the community with educated and skilled workers from the various majors and programs provided, with a high community hiring rate. Mullins pointed to the nursing and the automotive programs in particular. One of the most recognized automotive tech programs in the Southwest part of the country in located at TJC’s West Campus.
“You ask any of the car dealers in Tyler or the surrounding part of Texas whether or not they use that program and they will say absolutely. In fact, they are standing in line, waiting for students to complete the training so that they can hire them,” said Mullins.
The report concluded in 2008-09 included that students will receive an average of 12.6 percent return on their investment in TJC. This will recover all costs including tuition, fees, and forgone wages in approximately 12-13 years. An associate’s degree earned about $9,600 more per year when compared to persons with a high school diploma and no higher education.
Because of the reputation of graduates, businesses have migrated to Tyler. Some have paired up with the junior college itself to have students trained to be ready to work by graduation date. Luminate [used to be TXU Energy] is an example of one such company. It provides the student with training and the opportunity to immediately enter Luminate’s work force after graduation into a well-paying job.
Peters explained the relationship with the Tyler Economic Development Council and other potential business-TJC partnerships.
“We work very closely with the Tyler Economic Development Council. When they want to recruit for a large business or manufacturing site… they come to us and they ask, ‘What role can we [TJC] play in training or retraining? Can we help provide skilled labor force for that employer?'” Peters said.
This is beneficial for both TJC and the Tyler community. Dr. Mike Metke, president of Tyler Junior College, added his opinion on the benefits of TJC working with the Economic Development Council.
“[The] Economic Development Council would almost be out of business without us, in terms of attracting new businesses and doing the training for those businesses and adding to the skilled labor force,” Metke said.
Not only does TJC contribute economically but the students are involved in the activities of the community as well.
“TJC also supports a lot of things in the community,” Mullins said. “They are actively engaged in every area of the community. They are active in the Chamber of Commerce, in the Economic Development Council; they have volunteers that help out with organizations like United Way. They are constantly supporting just a multitude of activities that go on in the community, which makes them a great community college. “
Going to college provides opportunity for students as well as businesses and the economy of the community.
“National Surveys show that 90 percent of all of the jobs that are available and that will be created over the next 25 years are going to require someone to have at least 1-2 years after high school,” Mullins said. Junior and community colleges are the best positioned institutions in the country to provide that 1-2 year training program.”
Dr. Metke commented about the student-based goal of TJC.
“We try to position all of our students to be in a position to be successful in the next arena whether that is a transfer or in a job field or wherever their life takes them,” Metke said.