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The path to Greater Lansing’s economic future is through college readiness and education

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The path to Greater Lansing’s economic future is through college readiness and education

Bob Trezise, guest writer
 |  Lansing State Journal

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The more you learn, the more you earn.”

While the full value of education can be difficult to quantify, data consistently show that, in terms of dollars, education makes sense. In 2017, median weekly earnings for those with doctoral and professional degrees were more than triple those of people with less than a high school diploma. Further, workers with at least a bachelor’s degree earned more than the $907 median weekly earnings for all workers combined.

Supporting educational attainment in Greater Lansing is an investment in our existing talent pipeline and strengthens our business and talent attraction efforts. As educational attainment grows, increased standards of living and access to good-paying, highly skilled jobs follow.

Additionally, equitable access to education is one of the most powerful tools we have for creating long-term economic prosperity.

Addressing the racial wealth gap by addressing educational disparities and other systemic devices of inequity could grow United States GDP by 6% alone.

At LEAP’s September 2020 board of directors meeting, Michigan State University’s Dr. Charles Ballard presented troubling data about the racial gap in educational attainment — which has widened among black and white workers in Michigan in recent years. This gap has exacerbated wage disparities between Black and white workers, compounding the existing “earnings penalty” faced by workers of color.

As the regional economic development organization for Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) recognizes that advancing equitable economic development often means starting in the classroom.

Investing in career preparation and college readiness prepares students to participate fully in the local economy. And more economic participation leads to more innovation, more ideas and more cash flow to local businesses.

Some ways LEAP supports regional educational attainment efforts and equitable economic development include:

New statewide efforts include Futures for Frontliners, which provides frontline workers in Michigan with scholarships to attend community college tuition-free. Additionally, Michigan Reconnect gives residents 25 years and older who have not yet completed a post-secondary degree the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree or Pell-eligible skills certificate.

In a community that is home to one of the nation’s top community colleges (Lansing Community College) and a globally ranked research institution (Michigan State University), there’s no reason to wait to invest in an educated workforce and strong economic future.

Bob Trezise is president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), which builds a stronger community for all working every day to grow, retain and attract business to #LoveLansing.

This content was originally published here.

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