SIC Remains a Critical Piece to Regional Economy and Source for Job Creation According to New Study

October 1, 2021

--Illinois Community College system accounts for $3.5 billion in economic output and more than 43,000 jobs throughout state--

For more than 60 years, Southeastern Illinois College has helped drive the district area economy and train a skilled workforce for critical industries throughout Illinois according to a new statewide report analyzing the value of the Illinois community college system.

The Economic Impact Study (EIS) released by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), determined that the net present value of investing in an SIC associate degree or longā€term

certificate has an 18.5% rate of return over a 40-year working life. Increased earnings for a

degree completers (as compared to someone not attending community college) are estimated to total about $460,000. Also according to the ICCB data, more than 70% of completers of long-term certificate programs or Associate in Applied Science programs at SIC were employed in career jobs within a year of graduation consistently from 2010 to 2018.

The EIS also showed that during 2020, SIC worked with 117 unique employers in activities ranging from curriculum and apprenticeship development and review, contract training, internships, and professional development to job placement for graduating students.

The EIS concluded that the fastest growing jobs in the SIC district between 2010 and 2020 included construction, manufacturing, and real estate. The top advertised occupations in the SIC district in 2020 cover a wide range of occupations, but show a strong demand for truck driving, sales, nursing, and other health care fields. Top industries seeking employees in 2020 in the SIC district were the transportation and warehousing sector. Other sectors with significant hiring activity include retail trade, administrative support, waste management and remediation services, and health care and social assistance.

“Southeastern is a vital part of our community’s economic health from small business development to health care education, as well as career and technical education or exemplary transfer courses. SIC provides so many with the tools to succeed in today’s economy,” said Southeastern Illinois College President Dr. Jonah Rice.

SIC is one of 48 college districts in the state that play a vital role in the educational and workforce preparation of the individuals and communities served. SIC provides high-quality, accessible, and cost-effective educational opportunities for residents in a seven county area in southeastern Illinois that includes all of Saline, Gallatin, Hardin, and Pope counties, as well as portions of Hamilton, Johnson, and White counties.

“It is clear that community colleges remain a solid return on investment for local communities and the students that use them. 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,” said ICCB executive director, Dr. Brian Durham.

The EIS evaluates Illinois’ community college system on its ability to meet the needs of business and industry, equity, student outcomes, students’ return on investment, and the system’s overall economic impact to local economies and job growth. The report also examines statewide trends including employment, population, race and ethnicity changes, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Community colleges remain a valuable resource for students of all walks of life. We are committed to creating an equitable path to economic mobility no matter who you are or where you live through the Illinois community college system,” said Dr. Lazaro Lopez, ICCB Board Chair.

The study found that more than 84 percent of Illinois students who earn a long-term certificate or associate degree in applied science programs are employed in solid paying career jobs within a year of graduation.

The study also looked at Illinois community colleges’ impact on local economies.

In fiscal year 2020, Southeastern employed 109 employees that lived in the region with payroll and benefits totaling over $3.2 million. About 137 jobs in the district could be attributed to college operations, which is associated with $13.6 million in economic output. Value added (similar to Gross State Product) totaled over $5.4 million. This results in a combined impact of $19 million to the local economy.

These direct impacts ripple through the economy creating additional jobs, payrolls, and other economic activity in Illinois. The total economic output of Illinois community colleges on the statewide economy in fiscal year 2020 is estimated at $3.5 billion and 43,316 jobs.

The Illinois Community College System and ICCB are committed to creating, supporting, and expanding workforce training opportunities equitably in high-need communities. In 2019, Illinois started the Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) program, a grant program designed to increase workforce opportunities for African-Americans which are severely underrepresented among Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. Over the last two years, the WEI program has granted nearly $40 million to address education and unemployment gaps in the African-American and other minority communities throughout Illinois.

When examining earnings one year prior to completion compared to three years after completion, African-American student earnings increased 47 percent while Latinx students increased their earnings by 57 percent statewide.

Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg with an extension center in Carmi was founded in 1960 and offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs. At $106 per credit hour, SIC boasts one of the lowest tuition rates in the region, and more than 70% of students receive some form of financial aid or scholarships.

SIC has provided online classes since 2001 and offers dual credit for area high schools, accelerated courses, night classes and community education opportunities. With approximately 4,000 full or part-time students per year and approximately 140 employees, SIC is a top employer in Southern Illinois. For more information, visit

To review the full study, please visit