Op Ed: Investing in education builds our economic future
July 1, 2010
by Mildred García and George Kivett
Published in the Daily Breeze
With its strong economy, dynamic businesses and vibrant communities, the South Bay is a great place to live and work. As leaders in the South Bay, we take great pride in these attributes, and we want to do what it takes to sustain them. We know that at the core of a strong economy is a solid educational system that prepares today's students for the jobs and work force of the future. To ensure that we continue to serve today's students - and tomorrow's employees - we need to stand in full support of our local public university, one of the South Bay's greatest community resources.
California State University, Dominguez Hills is more than just a top-notch university for the South Bay. It's an economic engine with a regional impact valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a new study. The consulting firm ICF International recently found that the university's annual spending of $190 million generates a staggering impact of $328.4 million on the regional economy, and nearly $335.3 million on the statewide economy. This impact sustains nearly 3,000 jobs. On an annual basis, it generates more than $18.5 million in local and nearly $20 million in statewide tax revenue.
Additionally, CSU Dominguez Hills and the other 22 campuses in the California State University system are major drivers of the state's economic activity because of the benefits it brings to those it educates. More than $1 billion of the earnings by alumni from CSU Dominguez Hills are attributable to their CSU degrees, creating an additional $1.7 billion of industry activity throughout the state.
The report's authors cited the university's diverse student body and array of community partnerships as factors that create a dynamic and vibrant campus. The report mentioned the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Small Business Development and Global Logistics at CSU Dominguez Hills - which focuses on students of color and female entrepreneurs - and the Transition to Teaching Program's alternative certification model as standout programs that fill the needs of the local community.
The South Bay Association of Chambers of Commerce stands behind CSU Dominguez Hills because the university is a key player in carrying out SBACC's business and development goals for the South Bay. The SBACC supports job creation, work force development opportunities and an educational system that prepares the South Bay work force for jobs and careers targeting specific industries such as aerospace, trades, sciences, engineering, environmentalism, and health care, all of which the university provides. With over 65percent of the 75,000 CSU Dominguez Hills alumni living within 25 miles of their campus, they are the South Bay's employees, business owners, clients, community leaders and taxpayers. A strong CSU Dominguez Hills improves the business climate for the South Bay.
Yet as CSU Dominguez Hills celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the university's ability to fulfill its mission of educating a work force for the future is threatened by deep reductions in the state's higher education budget. State general fund support for higher education is nearly half what it was 16 years ago; in the past two years alone, the CSU has been forced to reduce its budget by more than 20 percent. These cuts have forced CSU campuses, including CSU Dominguez Hills, to limit access to higher education. At a time when the Public Policy Institute of California is projecting that the state will have 1million fewer college graduates than it needs by 2025, CSU Dominguez Hills has a waiting list of more than 2,000 potential students.
To halt the slide, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have proposed restoring funding for higher education. It is imperative that legislators, business leaders and all of California unite behind higher education. Failing to invest in the CSU now could stall the state's recovery by costing it billions of dollars in economic activity and hundreds of thousands of jobs. It would also dilute the most important ingredient in California's economic success: a highly educated, diverse work force capable of fostering the innovation and entrepreneurship of the 21st century.
As President Barack Obama has said, "America cannot lead in the 21st century unless we also have the best educated, most competitive work force in the world." That is why we must continue to support CSU Dominguez Hills as one of the key drivers of the South Bay's future economic development. When we focus on building the best possible educational system for our students, we ensure a more prosperous future for our children, our grandchildren and beyond.
Mildred García is president of California State University, Dominguez Hills. George Kivett is chair of the South Bay Association of Chambers of Commerce.