PRESS RELEASE: Kansas Business Leaders Tout Economic Benefits of Early Learning Investments
For Immediate Release: April 10, 2012
Media Contact: Matthew McMullan
Cell: 703-403-9762; Desk: 202-464-5358
Kansas Business Leaders Tout Economic Benefits of Early Learning Investments
Early care and education programs generate significant short-term economic activity, creating more economic activity than most other economic sectors
KANSAS CITY, KS – Three prominent area business leaders released a report today showing that investments in high-quality early care and education provide a surprisingly big boost to local businesses in Kansas and play an important role in helping the state’s economic recovery.
Participating in the news conference at the Hiersteiner Child Development Center at Johnson County Community College were Tyler Nottberg, CEO, U.S. Engineering Company; Neal Sharma, CEO, Digital Evolution Group; Dr. Terry Calaway, President, Johnson County Community College; and Susan Gates, National Director of America’s Edge, a national, nonprofit business leaders organization.
The business leaders cited a new America’s Edge report that found investments in early care and education are generating immediate sales of goods and services from Kansas businesses and helping ensure long-term economic security for the state.
Quality early learning investments in Kansas are generating sales of local goods and services that are higher than returns on investments in transportation, construction, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail trade, according to the report.
The report shows that, for every $1 invested in early care and education in Kansas, a total of $1.68 is generated in spending in the state, as compared to retail trade ($1.65), transportation ($1.63), construction ($1.59), wholesale trade ($1.51), and manufacturing ($1.46). The business leaders also noted that such investments are likely to generate even higher returns in Missouri, which will be the focus of a later study.
“The findings of this report make it clear that continuing investments in early care and education is an essential strategy for continuing Kansas’ economic recovery,” said Nottberg, adding a word of caution: “The reverse is also true. Every $1 cut from early learning results in a total loss of $1.68 from our businesses.”
Also included in the report is research documenting the long-term economic impact of quality early learning programs. According to the report, the global marketplace will require businesses to seek employees with advanced hard skills in math, reading and writing as well as the increasingly important “soft” skills like communication, collaboration and critical thinking. Experts believe that, by 2018, 1 million jobs in Kansas will require postsecondary training beyond high school.
“If we are serious about real economic development and ensuring long-term economic security for Kansas, building and protecting a high-quality early learning system is key,” said Sharma.
The study cites research showing children who participate in quality early learning programs perform better in math and reading; develop the social and emotional skills that transform into those important soft skills; have higher graduation rates; enter the workforce with higher skill levels; and earn more as adults.
The business leaders called upon Kansas lawmakers to continue to dedicate the proceeds of the Master Tobacco Settlement, approximately $56 million in FY2012, to early education programs – like Early Head Start, Parents as Teachers, and Tiny-K.
And with the future of the Master Tobacco Settlement proceeds unclear, they called upon state lawmakers to identify sustainable sources of funding to ensure these programs can continue to ensure the foundation needed for a skilled future workforce and sustained economic security.
The business leaders applauded the businesses of Johnson County for recognizing that quality education is a key component of economic development, with 93% of surveyed businesses stating that the quality of the pre-K to 12 schools is what makes Johnson County a good place to live. They also applauded the quality of centers such as the Hiersteiner Child Development Center where the event was held and the Shawnee Mission Head Start Center.
In order to attract businesses and individuals to Kansas and to Johnson County, it is important to have an infrastructure in place that includes quality early learning programs, such as the Blue Valley Early Learning Center now being built.
“Our education system in Kansas is a continuum,” said Calaway, “ one that should begin with quality early learning and continue through postsecondary training and at our community colleges and universities – preparing our young people to succeed as productive adults in our state.”