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GRCC presented its economic impact in West Michigan from the school’s Workforce Development programs on Tuesday

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Bill Pink addresses the economic impact GRCC's Workforce Development programs have in West Michigan at the Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC Center on November 13, 2018 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Najd Ayari/The Collegiate)

By Tessa Osborne

Grand Rapids Community College released the Workforce Development Impacts showing that hundreds of millions of dollars are being pumped into West Michigan by this program and impacting about 3,000 jobs.

GRCC made the announcement Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the Tassel M-Tech building to discuss the study done by Emsi which showed the economic impact of GRCC’s noncredit workforce programs.

GRCC President Bill Pink discussed the early beginnings of GRCC’s partnership with Emsi at the event. Pink said a year and a half ago when Emsi did a study with GRCC, it showed an impact of almost half a billion dollars. After learning about the impact, Pink asked Emsi another question.

“With what we see with that half a billion dollars, what we do not see is the full breath of the noncredit workforce training, job training all in that data of the work that we do,” Pink said during the press conference. “We don’t see that impact, and we know that from the GRCC perspective that that’s a huge impact that we make on West Michigan.”

Pink went on to describe the importance of figuring out a way to have a different level of measurement to communicate the economic footprint to other campuses across the country.

The Workforce Development Impacts done by Emsi, communicates GRCC’s noncredit workforce programs’ footprint, which injected hundreds of millions of dollars to the West Michigan economy and also impacted about 3,000 jobs. According to the study,  $130 million in income was also added and produced by past and present GRCC students in these noncredit programs.

The data from the 2016-2017 fiscal year showed a $294 million economic impact to Kent and Ottawa counties because of companies who were attracted to or expanded to these counties.

To add to what he said earlier Pink commented on how some programs may be overlooked when it comes to their economic footprints.

“When it comes to community colleges what is sometimes overlooked is not just what we do on the credit side that send people to their next school or to a job, but what does it look like when you have this kind of work that happens that’s training, that’s non-credit training,” Pink said.

Carlos Piggee who works for Johnson Controls explained how GRCC’s noncredit workforce programs offer a solution to those who would like a promotion but do not have the training to receive it.

“This is phenomenal, because I can say ‘Hey, I can send you to GRCC and you can get this training’ to my accord and it helps us to quantify being able to take them from one (pay) grade  to the next grade,” Piggee said.

Elizabeth Pena, who is part of the medical assistant apprenticeship program at GRCC and a mom of three, explained how this apprenticeship with GRCC gave her more opportunities.

“This program caught my attention because I was able work, support my family and continue my education without having to feel as if I was being held back due to the fact that I was not making enough money,” Pena said.