Business Matters: NHCC’s Economic Impact
When you think of North Hennepin Community College, the school’s diversity comes to mind. Nearly half its students are students of color. But the two-year college in Brooklyn Park is also gaining a reputation as an economic engine.
“The area is growing economically,” said Barbara McDonald, president of North Hennepin Community College. “There are new businesses and industries moving in. And the students that we serve here and the revenue that comes into the college and out of the college is just really making a difference in the community.”
Make that a big difference. A new study by consulting firm Parker Philips valued North Hennepin’s contribution to the state’s economy last year at $272 million.
Some of that figure is attributed to the school’s nearly 500 employees. Other direct and indirect factors played a role too. For example, operational spending, construction spending, student spending and visitor spending factored into that $272 million figure.
North Hennepin Alumni’s $3.2 Billion Impact
The study also evaluated the output of North Hennepin graduates. The study projects the college’s alumni will contribute $3.2 billion to Minnesota’s economy over the span of their 40-year careers.
“When we have an educated citizenry, we have our students out there in key jobs in very high demand areas,” said McDonald.
Those high demand areas include nursing. It’s an area North Hennepin specializes in. The school’s associate degree nursing program can transition into a bachelor’s degree on campus through a partnership with Metropolitan State University.
“If you read the papers, you know there’s huge demand for nurses out there in our economy. And we’re a part of that solution,” said McDonald.
Other high demand areas include careers in computer science, data analytics and cybersecurity.
“These are things the economy is screaming for. And we’re ready to help provide that workforce,” McDonald said.
North Hennepin is also working to fill gaps caused by retiring baby boomers, including a shortage of employees in human services and social work.
“We’re helping Hennepin County in particular solve a problem that they’re facing,” McDonald said. “Up to 40 percent of their workforce could retire in the next five years.”
Addressing the shortage is no small task. But President McDonald believes North Hennepin will be part of the solution.
“I just started my fourth year at North Hennepin and it’s busier than ever,” said McDonald. “We have high engagement amongst our faculty and staff and students that are very excited about being here, and I believe their needs are being well served.”