The Walters State Greeneville/Greene County Campus is a significant force in the local economy, according to a recent study of the college's five-year economic impact. And the college’s campus enhancement project scheduled to begin in March 2013 will make an even greater impact on jobs, local business volume, and individual income.
According to the study, the WSCC Greene County Campus contributed $13.9-14.5 million to the local economy, along with the creation of 507 new jobs during 2010-11.
The economic impact study was conducted by educational consultant Dr. Fred Martin of Knoxville. It measured the campus' economic impact on the area in terms of business volume, jobs created and personal income earned. Among the counties included in the study were Greene, Hawkins, Washington, and Cocke counties.
The amount of local business volume generated as a result of the campus’ expenditures was $6.8 million during 2010-11. The impact of the campus’ expenditures on personal income was $7.1-7.7 million during the study period. Walters State’s presence in Greene County supported 507 full-time jobs in 2010-11.
The study also included projections of potential economic impact over the next five years. During this period, the college will be improving current facilities and building new space at its downtown campus. The expanded and enhanced facilities will allow the college to develop and expand workforce training and educational programs to meet local economic demands. A new 84,000 square-foot building is expected to be completed in 2014.
As a result of the campus enhancement, the average annual impact of the campus’ operation for 2011-2016 should range from $23.1-23.8 million per year with more than 788 jobs created per year. Over the five-year period, the projected business volume impact should total $55.6 million, the projected individual income impact should range from $59.7-63.3 million per year, and the number of jobs created should total 3,942 jobs.
The study also estimated the increased potential earning capacity of a class of Walters State Greene County graduates compared to their high school graduate counterparts. The 2011 class could expect to earn as much as $90.7 million more over their work lifetime than individuals with only a high school diploma.
While the study demonstrates Walters State’s contributions to the local economy, Dr. Wade McCamey, Walters State president, says it doesn’t show the intangible impact the college has made on the quality of life in the area.
"The study doesn’t factor in the value that results from having a trained and educated workforce available to local employers,” McCamey said.
“Nor does it measure how access to affordable higher education programs creates life-long learning opportunities for the citizens of Greene and surrounding counties,” he also said.
The WSCC Greene County Campus serves over 1,100 students enrolled in credit courses and more than 2,000 students taking non-credit courses. About half of the college’s students are enrolled in university parallel programs and transfer to four-year colleges and universities to complete their bachelor’s degree. And half of Walters State’s students are enrolled in technical education programs that prepare them to enter the workforce immediately after earning their degree or certification.
Due to the structural limitations of its current facility, the WSCC Greene County Campus has been unable to meet the request of Greeneville and Greene County to develop new healthcare and public safety programs and expand current academic offerings.
However, in December 2010, the college received state funding earmarked for severely stressed community college facilities. The college was awarded a $9 million grant in state capital funds toward a $20 million enhancement project to reduce capacity constraints at the Greene County Campus. The grant required a local 15 percent match, which was met through the generosity of Greeneville businessman and philanthropist Scott Niswonger.
The college’s campus enhancement plan includes a new 84,000 square-foot building that will feature state-of-the-art natural science and health labs; residential police and fire academies; a 234-seat auditorium; and general classrooms and student support areas.
Programs that will be added or expanded as a result of the college’s campus enhancement plan in Greeneville are occupational therapist assistant; physical therapist assistant; pre-allied health embedded certificate; fire science; regional law enforcement academy; and art.
The WSCC Greene County Campus is currently home to two of the college’s premier programs, respiratory care and the East Tennessee Basic Law Enforcement Academy. The college expanded its nursing program to this campus in the fall of 2007 and enrolls 60 nursing students a semester.
The campus offers dual enrollment classes for high school juniors and seniors who want to get a head start on their college education. Students can earn both high school and college credit in areas such as English, history, biology, and many other subject areas.
Walters State, in partnership with Greene Technology Center, also develops and coordinates adult education programs in Greene County. Courses and programs offered include, leadership, industrial electricity, human resources, safety courses, PLC, welding, CNA, and phlebotomy.