Junior & Community Colleges Good For Local Economies

Research done by the state Board of Community and Junior Colleges shows that the schools stimulate local economies. Last year junior and community college employees made about $260 million in wages. The schools also purchased more than $280 million in supplies from local businesses.

Shirley Cote says what brought her to teach inside a Jackson County classroom was her decision to enter another classroom four years ago. She'd had enough of her dead end job, and decided to enroll in community college.

"While I was waiting tables I knew it wasn't something I could do for the rest of my life. It was gonna take a toll on my body," said Cote, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College graduate. "There's no career involved."

Getting a college education led Cote to a career in the computer field. Now she works at the Jackson County Technology Center in Vancleave teaching high school students to become skilled technicians.

Cote said, "Now I come to work every day and I love my job. I get a chance to do what I love to do for the rest of my life."

Cote's experience at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is not unique. A new study shows that for every dollar students spend to go to school, they'll get 28 dollars back when they enter the work force.

"We work very hard to reach out to businesses and industry to try to provide new programs, high tech programs the kind of programs that will help people both improve their lives and improve the state of the community they live in," said Jackson County Campus Vice President Dr. Rick Christmas.

The community college system is making a big impact here in South Mississippi. Last year Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College spent 86 percent of its budget in George, Jackson, Harrison, and Stone Counties. That money went toward supplies and employee salaries.