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Community colleges say they add $5.6 billion a year to Md. economy

Hoping to promote the value of their campuses at a time of deep cuts in state funding, the leaders of Maryland's 16 community colleges released a study yesterday showing the system adds $5.6 billion annually to the state's economy.

That number includes wages and benefits to employees, the additional income generated as those funds are spent, capital spending and higher annual earnings for graduates, according to the study released at the Maryland Association of Counties conference in Ocean City.

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"I think it's a very powerful tool to help us tell our story, to give us some validity," said Andrew C. Jones, president of the Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville.

Telling their story has been particularly urgent for community colleges as state and county leaders have faced huge budget shortfalls this year.

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Community colleges, which receive state funding based on a percentage of spending on the University of Maryland, saw a 10.2 percent decrease in state support for fiscal year 2004.

Those cuts coincide with significant increases in enrollment at two-year schools. Community colleges enroll 53 percent of Maryland undergraduates, said Anthony G. Kinkel, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.

CC Benefits Inc., a research company in Idaho conducted the study.


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