I have a confession to make. As an educator, planning is not my favorite administrative duty. In large part, that is because so many formal plans end up on a shelf awaiting resources for full implementation. However, the paradox is, without planning efforts, it doesn’t really matter where we go. Similar to what the Cheshire Cat told Alice in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” if you don’t know where you want to go, any road will take you there.
Currently, JCC is facilitating a master plan in the attempt to tell us where we want to go and, additionally, how we want to get there. For example, study of county growth patterns will indicate where expansion should take place. Facility assessments will indicate where renovations are needed and estimated costs. A look at infrastructure needs will reveal required improvements for safety response, traffic patterns, entrance areas, parking lots, information technology, storm-water treatment and landscaping.
Planning is important because JCC is important. A recent study that assessed the economic impact of JCC to Johnston County was quite revealing. The study measured JCC’s economic impact in four areas for fiscal year 2012-13. Those areas were operations spending, construction spending, student spending and alumni spending. That impact was significant. According to the data generated, JCC added $167.7 million, or the equivalent of 3,840 new jobs to Johnston County’s gross regional product – its economy. In other words, JCC accounted for 3.8 percent of Johnston County’s economy in fiscal year 2012-13.
There are many ways to interpret this information. Return on investment is one way. On average, for every dollar invested in education at JCC by students, $2.70 will be received in added lifetime earnings, an average return rate of 13.5 percent. Similarly, for every $1 taxpayers invested in JCC, taxpayers received $3.60 in added tax revenues and government savings. Finally, society’s return on investment generated $8.90 in added state income and social savings.
My point in offering these nuggets of information is twofold. One, JCC serves an important function within Johnston County and the state. Not only does it provide quality educational experiences for students to become productive, taxpaying citizens, but it contributes mightily to the rebounding economy we all enjoy. Second, without good planning, we would have never gotten to where we are – an economic engine that generates opportunity for the entire county, year after year.
As we move forward in determining where we want to be and how we want to get there, rest assured, the investment will continue to pay huge dividends. The state and county funding streams are just that – investments – in you, in our students, in our employers. Those are worthy investments to be made and the reasoning remains at the forefront of our planning agenda.
Alice didn’t much care where she was going as long as she got somewhere. I am not interested in taking just any road toward anywhere. Our mission is too precious for that. Our road must take us to successes deserving of the investments made.
David N. Johnson is president of Johnston Community College.