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Schools bolster SCV economy

Community college’s indirect employment impact is 7,000 jobs

Posted: May 30, 2009 1:53 p.m.
Updated: May 30, 2009 1:53 p.m.

Schools and colleges create thousands of jobs for local residents and pump millions of dollars into the local economy.

 
As the economy slumps and unemployment rises in California, much of the Santa Clarita Valley's economic strength stems from its schools and colleges.


"The college brings in more than $100 million in revenue," said College of the Canyons Assistant Superintendent Barry Gribbons.

"Some of that money might have come to the Santa Clarita Valley anyway, but without the college the vast majority of that money would not come to the area," he said.

A 2008-09 economic analysis reported the Santa Clarita Valley's two-campus community college pumped $202 million in business volume into the local economy through salaries, purchasing of supplies and equipment, capital improvement and job creation. It also found the college's revenue reached $109.6 million in 2007-08, a 117-percent increase from eight years ago.

Much of the revenue is connected to construction projects, like the University Center, which is currently being built on the south end of COC's Valencia campus and expected to open in the fall. There the community college will offer bachelor's degree-level courses so local residents can earn four-year degrees without driving to universities outside the valley.

College-construction funds create employment for local companies such as Lundgren Management Corporation, a construction-management company hired for the University Center, Gribbons said.

Through construction projects and partnerships with the business community, the college's indirect employment impact is about 7,000 jobs, Gribbons said.

Money earned through the community college trickles into the local economy when people spend their wages on cars, rent, clothes and entertainment in the SCV.

"The effect of each dollar of the college's expenditures is multiplied, increasing the total impact of the Santa Clarita Valley's economy, creating more jobs and income," according to the college's economic analysis.

The Santa Clarita Valley's only community college joins two colleges and five school districts that provide the Santa Clarita Valley with jobs and revenue, as well as education.

Hart district is biggest local employer
With just over 2,000 employees, the William S. Hart Union High School District - the only public high school and junior high school district in the Santa Clarita Valley - is the largest local employer, Superintendent Jaime Castellanos said.

Besides teaching and administration positions, the district provides jobs through construction projects like the modernization of the area's junior high and high schools.

"By using more local people, it not only helps them in terms of jobs it puts money in the local economy," Castellanos said.

A majority of the teachers, administrators and classified staff who make up the district live locally, which means money from their wages pumps into the local business community, he said.

"The fact that they live here, they take more pride in their community," Castellanos said.

With Hart district, four elementary school districts and two colleges besides COC, education in the Santa Clarita Valley is a major source of employment.

College of the Canyons employs about 800 full-time equivalent employees with a large portion of the employees living locally in the Santa Clarita Valley, Gribbons said.

The prevalence of schools creates a pool of buyers that's attractive to business seeking a market of young families, said said Andree Walper, economic development analyst for the city of Santa Clarita.

"This is a great incentive for businesses to come here," Walper said.

CalArts and filming
About 250 California Institute of the Arts alumni live in the Santa Clarita Valley permanently, said Nicole Stark, director of alumni relations at the art school.

Much of the alumni who come to the Santa Clarita Valley want to raise a family, she said.

"They are extremely committed to the community," Stark said.

The Santa Clarita Valley is home to a significant amount of filming, which works hand in hand with CalArts, Walper said.

Filming locally provides opportunities for jobs and contributes to the economy when film companies purchase supplies and rent equipment from local businesses, Walper said.

Current CalArts students and alumni invest in the community by volunteering and being involved in the arts community, Stark said.

"They're spending money at Jamba Juice. They're buying stuff at Borders," she said.

Having a top-rated arts school in the Santa Clarita Valley provides opportunities for community partnerships, she said.

"There's almost no place I can go as a professional working at CalArts and not see our students and our alumni," she said.

Helping small businesses
College of the Canyons hosts the Small Business Development Center, which provides training for growing small businesses.

Along with general education classes, the college organizes specific business-oriented training programs.

"We work with them to develop curriculum that will help our business. We would love to do even more of that," Walper said.

"The biggest thing the college can do is help provide training," Gribbons said. "There's a lot of folks that may find themselves unemployed or underemployed. The college can offer training for jobs that are needed right now for these folks to obtain a new set of skills that will help them get new jobs."

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