GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A study commissioned by Grand Rapids Community College highlights how much value the school brings to West Michigan. It found that GRCC was responsible for more than $1 billion in economic impact during the 2020-21 fiscal year.

“GRCC creates value from multiple perspectives,” college President Charles Lepper said in a release. “We generate more in tax revenue than we receive, which is significant. But beyond that, GRCC plays a key role in help students increase their employability and achieve their individual potential. The college draws students to the region, generating new dollars and opportunities. And GRCC provides students with the education, training and skills they need to have fulfilling and prosperous careers.”

For the 2020-21 school year, GRCC’s operations spending reached $110.2 million. Construction projects generated $7.3 million in local value, while current student and alumni spending topped more than $900 million. GRCC also employed 1,338 full- and part-time faculty and staff during that time, including a $91.6 million payroll.

Basics aside, the study found that even more value comes from the benefits of advanced education. For that stretch, GRCC produced approximately $1.9 billion in added income for students and $760 million for local businesses.

“The college also benefits state and local taxpayers through increased tax receipts and a reduced demand for government-supported social services and benefits society as a whole in Michigan by creating a more prosperous economy,” the release stated.

Lepper credited the community college model of affordable education as the reason for the added value.

“People in Michigan invested a present value total of $192.2 million in GRCC in fiscal year 2020-21,” Lepper stated. “That means for every dollar invested in GRCC, people in Michigan will receive a cumulative value of $14.80 in benefits.”

GRCC has been one of the few Michigan colleges to buck the enrollment decline seen across the state and the nation. According to MI School Data, overall enrollment is up compared to the previous 10 years. This past fall, enrollment at GRCC is up 3.2% with 12,157 students.

That growth also included double-digit gains among Hispanic and Black students.

“Our enrollment increase reflects our commitment to being a community college that is accessible, affordable and inclusive,” GRCC Dean of Student Success Eric Mullen said in a statement. “We believe that everyone has the potential to succeed, and we are here to support our students every step of the way.”