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Alabama’s Community Colleges Pump $6.6 Billion into State Economy, NACC Adds Nearly $100 Million into Local Economy

February 13, 2023

Pictured here is NACC's Math, Science, and Engineering Technology Building.

Students and alumni of colleges within the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) 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. Specifically, the report found that Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) added $98.1 million in income to the NACC Service Area economy.

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 the analysis demonstrate that ACCS is a strong investment for all three major stakeholder groups—students, taxpayers, and society,” according to the report. “…Students receive a great return for their investments in an education from (the) ACCS. At the same time, taxpayers’ investment in (the) ACCS returns more to government budgets than it costs and creates a wide range of social benefits throughout Alabama.”

Alabama’s community college alumni who are currently employed in Alabama’s workforce added $5.7 billion in income during the analysis year. A total of 95 percent of Alabama community college alumni remain in the state to live and work.

The study reports that alumni of Northeast created an impact of $80 million, and NACC’s impact supported 1,789 jobs. According to the study, “the activities of NACC and its students support one out of every 34 jobs in the NACC Service Area.”

“Our legacy centers on helping people develop the skills they need to help build the framework of our state’s economy, and the data this report provides proves we are on a forward path of excellence in that pursuit,” said Jimmy H. Baker, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System.

“Residents are receiving a strong return on investment when they invest in training at one of our colleges – whether through an adult education program, rapid skills training program, rigorous certification, or academic transfer program that allows them to move toward completing a bachelor’s degree. And, they’re using that training to make a difference right here in Alabama.”

NACC’s President Dr. David Campbell has been heavily involved in economic development initiatives in both Jackson and DeKalb Counties for many years. “In many instances, community colleges are looked at for the educational opportunities they offer in an area” stated Dr. David Campbell.  “The Lightcast study does this as well, but it also looks at the economic impact that the college has on Northeast’s service area and the state as a whole.  Obviously, the effect on the Northeast area is substantial, like a major industry being in an area. I am familiar with these industry impacts based on my work with Jackson and Dekalb counties Economic Development boards.  We at Northeast are very proud of the economic and educational impact we have for our community.”

Among the report’s highlights:

  • The impact of the Alabama Community College System, which celebrates 60 years as a system this year and represents 24 community and technical colleges across Alabama, supported 98,923 jobs in Fiscal Year 2020-21. For perspective, the activities of the colleges and their students support one out of every 27 jobs in Alabama.
  • Taxpayers, who provided the Alabama Community College System with $869.8 million of funding in FY2020-21, received an added tax revenue benefit of $1.1 billion. Additionally, reduced demand for government-funded services in Alabama will add another $82.2 million in benefits to taxpayers.
  • The ACCS generates $7.40 for every dollar invested in ACCS, for as long as the colleges’ FY2020-21 students remain active in the state workforce.
  • The average Alabama community college graduate earns $7,900 more each year than a resident who does not obtain more than a high school diploma.
  • The average annual return for Alabama community college students is 22.1%.
  • The net impact of the colleges’ operations spending added $535.8 million in income to the state economy.
  • The net impact of the colleges’ construction spending was $13.3 million in added income for Alabama.
  • The jobs retained or created and additional investments by businesses supported by the Alabama Technology Network, an entity of the Alabama Community College System, created $206.5 million in added income.
  • As a result of the $1.8 billion invested by Alabama to support the ACCS, the economy will grow by $12.8 billion over the course of students’ working lives.
  • One out of every 34 jobs in the NACC Service Area is supported by the activities of NACC and its students.
  • The impact of the daily spending of NACC students retained in the region is $1.3 million in added income.
  • The average associate degree graduate from NACC will see an increase in earnings of $7,600 each year compared to someone with a high school diploma working in Alabama.

NACC employed 316 full-time and part-time faculty and staff. Payroll amounted to $14.1 million, much of which was spent in the region for groceries, mortgage and rent payments, dining out, and other household expenses. The net impact of the college’s operations spending added $16.8 million in income to the regional economy in FY 2020-21.

The expenditures of retained students in FY 2020-21 added $1.3 million in income to the NACC Service Area economy.

Lightcast, a global leader in labor market analytics for colleges and universities, analyzed data using FY2020-21 academic and financial reports from Alabama’s community and technical colleges, as well industry and employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau.

The full report can be found at

For more information about Northeast Alabama Community College, visit or download the OneACCS app in the Apple Store or Google Play Store. Follow NACC on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to keep up with the latest announcements, current events, and more.


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