Enriching Pennsylvania’s Economy and Workforce
Penn College generates more than $482.5 million a year in overall economic impact and supports nearly 3,600 jobs in the region, according to an independent report released in April 2009.
Penn State is Pennsylvania’s largest economic engine, according to the study by Pittsburgh-based Tripp Umbach. Penn College, a special mission affiliate of Penn State, was third among 24 Penn State campuses in overall impact statewide. Penn College’s total state business-volume impact was surpassed only by University Park ($4.4 billion) and Hershey Medical Center ($1.6 billion).
The survey’s business-volume figures include direct and indirect spending, such as capital improvements; purchased goods, services and supplies; employee spending generated by payroll and benefits; off-campus spending by students and visitors; and the impact of all these expenditures on Pennsylvania businesses, which recirculate the dollars throughout the economy in support of the commonwealth.
According to the survey conducted in 2008:
- Penn College’s direct impact was nearly $210 million, and indirect impact was another $273 million
- Penn College students spent $100 million off campus for housing, food, supplies, entertainment, and other items and services
- Penn College visitors spent more than $51 million for accommodations, gifts, other items and services
- Penn College faculty and staff spending was more than $40.4 million
- Penn College’s spending for capital improvements, goods and services, and supplies totaled $18.2 million
- Penn College generated nearly $18.6 million in government revenue directly and indirectly in 2008 by working with Pennsylvania businesses that generate state revenues through sales tax, corporate net income tax and capital stock/franchise taxes
The Stage X building program advanced from planning and design to awarding contracts and starting construction. The $45.27 million project includes renovation of the Hager Lifelong Education Center, the Parkes Automotive Technology Center and the Avco-Lycoming Metal Trades Center/Machining Technologies Center, as well as the construction of the new Dauphin Hall residential complex for students, which is set to open in Fall 2010.
Addressing Energy and Workforce Needs
Global pressures on energy and key advances in technology prompted a re-emergence of the domestic natural-gas market, and the industry focused on our region, where it expects to unlock natural gas from pores of organic shale buried 400 million years ago.
New horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques used to recover the gas make this a viable, sustainable source of energy for the future. Our region, located in the Marcellus Shale play, is believed to be rich in energy and its proximity to major Northeast and mid-Atlantic population centers make it a prime target for drilling.
To address emerging natural-gas industry needs, Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Penn College teamed with Penn State Cooperative Extension to form the Marcellus Shale Education & Training Center.
A workforce-needs assessment, released by the center in June, stated that 1,617 to 2,695 direct, full-time jobs could be required in Northern Tier (Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming) and Central (Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union) counties this year to support drilling and production.
In addition to direct-employment projections, the Pennsylvania Economy League estimated that each direct job in the Pennsylvania oil-and-gas industry creates an additional 1.52 indirect jobs throughout the economy.
Penn College quickly responded to the potential for new careers and business opportunities by developing short- and long-term education opportunities for related careers.
A pre-employment training program and noncredit courses in welding, commercial driving, safety, electrical, electronic and other entry-level industry skills were developed. These address the need for commercial drivers, roustabouts and well operators and include industry-specific classes and certification testing for welders and expanded skills for electrical or electronics workers who want to work as well tenders (operators).
Penn College also offers associate and bachelor’s degrees that can prepare graduates for employment with energy companies or businesses serving the gas industry. These include:
- automated manufacturing technology
- civil engineering technology
- computer aided drafting technology
- computer aided product design
- construction management
- diesel technology
- on site power generation
- electrical technology
- electronics and computer engineering technology
- heavy construction equipment technology
- machine tool technology
- welding and fabrication engineering technology
Ranking Among Nation's Top Producers
Penn College ranked as one of the nation’s top producers of associate degrees and certificates in an annual listing compiled by Community College Week.
The college ranked second in the nation in Engineering-Related Technologies/Technicians and Precision Production, fourth in Natural Resources and Conservation, and 10th in Parks, Recreation, Leisure and Fitness Studies.
Other categories in which Penn College appeared were Communications, Journalism and Related Programs (18); Agriculture, Agricultural Operations and Related Sciences (23); Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences (35); and All Disciplines – Non-Minority (55).
Training 800,000 Pennsylvania Workers
Penn College is the fiscal administrator and manager of a statewide network of 33 colleges and universities that administers more than $18 million per year of Guaranteed Free Training funding for Pennsylvania workers.
The Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2009, coordinated funding to train more than 800,000 Pennsylvania workers at nearly 14,000 companies over the last decade; 1,500 companies participated in the past year.
Manufacturing or technology-based businesses located, or with significant presence, in the state are eligible for training; employees trained must be state residents, employed full time as front-line employees or first-level supervisors.
Employers may choose any WEDnetPA partner, private-sector training or their own in-house staff to address workforce-training needs. This flexibility, to provide training how, where and when they need it, provides maximum efficiency; 91 percent of program resources go directly to help pay for employee training, and 98 percent of participating companies reported positive outcomes, including:
- improved product/service quality
- safer workplace with fewer accidents
- new customers and increased business
- improved communications and teamwork
- increases in employee pay and compensation
Housing the Arts
Penn College played a key role in the annual Governor's Awards for the Arts to honor Pennsylvania artists. As host city for the 2008 awards, the college’s hometown marked Williamsport Celebrates the Arts Week, providing students, faculty and staff the opportunity to participate in many arts-related activities.
The awards ceremony was held at the Community Arts Center. President Gilmour offered welcoming remarks to the governor and first lady, Gov. Edward G. and Judge Marjorie O. Rendell. A highlight of the evening was a reception catered by the School of Hospitality.
Consolidation and Conservation
Over the course of the year, the 2008-09 state appropriation approved for Penn College was reduced by 6 percent. Penn College was notified twice that it would lose state funding originally appropriated for the year. In October, a cut of $615,910 was announced; a second cut of $253,610 was announced in December.
Penn College’s president said “consolidation and conservation” were the touchstones used to reduce the operating budget in response to the state cuts. Personnel expenses were reduced by not filling vacant positions. Conference and travel expenses and costs associated with on- and off-campus meetings were reduced. Some renovation plans were postponed. Community sponsorships were reduced. Cost center administrators were charged to carefully review all expenditures and ensure cost efficiency in operations.
Conserving Energy Through Training
Increased demand for energyconservation services, resulting from the nation’s economic-stimulus plan, placed a Penn College program that prepares workers to make buildings energy-efficient in the national spotlight. As the state’s largest provider of weatherization training, Penn College was urged to double its commitment to the Weatherization Training Center, which provides weatherization training and curriculum-development services.
Penn College added staff and allocated additional space to support the expansion in 2009. In addition to on-campus training facilities that include construction mock-ups, operating oil and gas furnaces and a carpentry workshop, the center provides in-field training, professional consulting and technical updates to weatherization providers.
WTC, part of the Pennsylvania Housing Resource Center, was created in 1985; it receives funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.