Garden City Community College has been part of this community for 94 years. It is the longest serving community college in Kansas and recently ranked among the top 25 community colleges in the nation. In addition, I believe GCCC plays an integral role in the sustained economic growth of Garden City, Holcomb, Finney County and southwest Kansas.

The community support of GCCC since 1919 has made this college a strong, high-quality institution of higher education. In fact, GCCC currently is in a growth mode while other colleges in the state and country are scaling back. Without the partnership between GCCC and the residents of Finney County, Garden City, Holcomb and southwest Kansas, the regional economy, workforce and educational levels would diminish. The college recently requested a study that looked at the economic impact GCCC has on the area and what that means to our students, taxpayers and businesses.

The study was conducted by EMSI, a third-party economic modeling company. In a nutshell, the study showed that GCCC enriches the lives of its students and increases their lifetime incomes. In addition, taxpayers are less economically burdened because of the expanding economy and the reduced demand for social services. Finally, the study proved that the economic stimulus provided by the college and enjoyed by the community contributes to the growth of both local and state economies.

The most obvious benefit of higher education is realized by the students. In the short term, students sacrifice current earnings, as well as the immediate cost of college tuition and expenses, in return for higher future earning potential. It is well documented that, on average, individuals who graduate with an associate's degree can expect to earn $9,200 more per year than high school graduates. In fact, the average income at the career midpoint of someone with an associate's degree in the GCCC service area is $35,100, which is 36 percent more than a student with a high school diploma. From an investment point of view, students can expect to earn a 14.7 percent return on their investment of time and money in their education that could be realized in as few as 10 years. In contrast, the total return of large stocks over the past 10 years is less than 5 percent.

Also notable is the economic stimulus enjoyed by society as a whole due to higher education. The state's economic base is exponentially increased as a result of these higher income levels. Businesses benefit from GCCC students' added skills through increased productivity levels and reduced training costs. These factors result in an estimated $6.4 million in taxable income being added to the Kansas economy each year because of GCCC. Furthermore, the state of Kansas will avoid social costs estimated at $348,000 per year because of GCCC students, which includes savings associated with improved health, reduced crime, and reduced welfare and unemployment.

From the taxpayers' perspective, a significant portion of tax dollars allocated to GCCC are recovered. This return on investment is seen in the form of increased state and local tax receipts from students' higher incomes and actual reductions in state and local government expenditures. In effect, taxpayers see a rate of return of more than 2 percent on their support for GCCC.

In conclusion, my goal in sharing the results of this study with you is to affirm the economic contributions GCCC makes to the southwest Kansas community by detailing the role that the college plays in promoting economic development, enhancing students' careers and improving quality of life. As a native Kansan, and president of this fine institution, I am incredibly proud to be a part of the success and growth of our state, our youth and our future. Thank you for your continued support of our great college and go Busters!