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Study reflects on economic impact of Kaskaskia College, community college system

Kaskaskia College continues to boost the regional economy and educate a new generation to fulfill the workforce demands in industries throughout Illinois, according to a new study by the Illinois Community College Board.

The study, Illinois Community Colleges’ Economic Impacts and Student Employment Outcomes, evaluated the Illinois community college system on its ability to meet the needs of business and industry and on equity, student outcomes, students’ return on investment, and overall economic impact. Findings of the ICCB’s study show that Illinois’ 48 community colleges account for $3.5 billion in economic output and more than 43,000 jobs.

Kaskaskia College is a public community college in Centralia. Community College District 501 serves all or part of nine counties, including Bond, Clinton, Fayette, Marion, Washington, Jefferson, St. Clair, Madison and Montgomery.

In fiscal year 2019, Kaskaskia College’s total economic output on the statewide economy was $107.5 million. The net impact of the college’s operations spending alone adds $29 million to the district’s economy.

“This report confirms the value of community colleges not only in Illinois, but the nation as a whole,” stated KC President George Evans. “The flexibility, affordability, and high-quality education that community colleges offer can no longer be ignored.  Kaskaskia College is very proud to be represented in this report, which really does highlight just how important our institutions are to educating so many individuals from all walks of life.”

“It is clear that community colleges remain a solid return on investment for local communities and the students that use them,” said ICCB executive director Dr. Brian Durham. “Our system plays a vital role in meeting the needs of Illinois’ workforce by providing quality training and education and gives students a greater opportunity to earn higher wages in countless industries throughout the state.”

According to the study, as the long-term economic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic become more apparent, community colleges and other parts of the workforce development system can help retrain those who have permanently lost their jobs. While many industries are experiencing permanent job closures or position eliminations, others, such as healthcare and social assistance, transportation and warehousing, and waste management and remediation services, are expected to increase their demand for trained and certified workers.

A degree or even a short-term, narrow certificate can lead to higher wages and more likely long-term employment, said Dr. Brian Durham, ICCB executive director.

“More than 84 percent of graduates with a long-term certificate or an (associate of applied science degree) are employed in jobs in their chosen career field within a year of graduation,” he said. “And five years after graduation, graduates with an associate’s degree who then transfer to a four-year institution have employment rates of 85 percent.”

“Kaskaskia College is pleased to have strong partnerships with regional employers,” said KC Vice President of Instructional Services Julie Obermark. “By working collaboratively with our industry partners, Kaskaskia College examines labor market data to ensure college programs are relative and current with industry trends. This collaboration ensures any adjustments to program curriculum or addition of new programming is responsive to workforce needs.”

To review the full study, visit

Kaskaskia College is an institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately over 7,000 students annually, Kaskaskia College offers  more than 150 degrees and technical certificates.


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