Pellissippi State generates $258 million annual economic impact

Pellissippi State sign at entrance to Hardin Valley Campus
As the largest community college in Tennessee, Pellissippi State has pumped $1.3 billion into the local economy over the past five years.

Pellissippi State Community College has pumped an average of $258 million per year into the local economy over the past five years.

That’s about $1.3 billion in economic impact – the value of business volume, jobs and individual income created in Knox and Blount counties – that is directly tied to Pellissippi State, the largest community college in Tennessee with 10,694 students.

“Our mission is to provide a transformative environment for not only our students, but for the community,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “This annual economic impact study shows that the good work we’re doing here goes beyond our five campuses as our faculty, staff, students and alumni contribute to our local economy.”

A majority of Pellissippi State’s annual economic impact — $1 billion over five years or $203 million per year — can be attributed to the infusion of new non-local revenues such as state appropriations, grants, contracts and federal student financial aid, according to educational consultant Fred H. Martin, who conducted the study for Pellissippi State.

“Every single dollar of local revenue that comes into Pellissippi State generates an estimated annual return on investment of at least $5.32, comprised of $2.91 in local business volume, plus at least $2.41 in individual income,” he said.

There are significant individual economic benefits for students who complete associate degrees as well.

A 2018 report by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) found that the average associate degree graduate in the U.S. earns roughly $6,600 per year more than someone with a high school diploma. That amounts to about $264,000 in increased lifetime earnings potential for associate degree graduates compared with high school graduates.

Meanwhile, a University of Tennessee study found that those earning associate degrees were much more likely to stay and work in Tennessee than other degree-earners. In fact, after one year, 73.3% of associate degree earners were working in Tennessee, compared with 62.4% of bachelor’s degree earners and 40% of doctoral degree earners.

“Assuming the majority of Pellissippi State’s graduates remain in the area, the economic impact of each succeeding graduating class over their earnings lifetime has been and will continue to be an enormous contributor to local economic activity,” Martin said.

Over the five-year period, Pellissippi State’s expenditures created and sustained an estimated 43,496 jobs. The college itself employed 2,886 full-time-equivalent employees from 2014-2019.

“The results of this economic and social impact study clearly demonstrate that Pellissippi State continues to be a major contributor to the economic bases of Knox and Blount counties,” Wise said. “In December 2019, we graduated our largest fall semester class yet, with 580 students completing their degrees. As Pellissippi State continues to grow, our economic and social impact on the Knoxville metropolitan area will increase similarly.”

The complete 32nd annual analysis of Pellissippi State’s economic impact in Knox and Blount counties can be accessed at