By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Feb 24, 2010 at 2:33 PM

It's a simple hypothesis. More education equals higher incomes.  More highly skilled people equal more innovation and productivity for greater Milwaukee.

Education makes a huge difference in the income averages for a community. And, sadly, in greater Milwaukee we're not doing as well as we should.

But, a one percent shift upward in the college graduation rate could add more than $1.2 billion to our area's economy, according to a new study spearheaded by the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), of which I'm a former member, and CEO for Cities.

Yesterday, had a piece by Carol Coletta and Beth Wnuk that highlights Milwaukee and this opportunity. Colettta, whom I've met a few times, was in Milwaukee recently to talk to the GMC and others.

She wrote, "Increasing college attainment reliably leads to greater personal income. While Americans with four-year degrees earn an average of $58,292 annually, those with some college or a two-year degree average annual earnings of $38,220."

Milwaukee, the Forbes article notes, "could boost its college attainment rate metro area by just one percentage point, it would put an additional $1.2 billion in personal income into its metro economy."

Coletta's research says that if the Milwaukee 7 region were to raise its college attainment rate from 28.7 percent to 29.7 percent (just 13,146 new grads) that $1.5 billion could be pumped into our annual economy.

How does our region do this? CEO for Cities offers four ideas:

  • Re-engage adults with some college, but no four-year degree.
  • Increase transfer rate of students in two-year institutions to four-year institutions.
  • Retain current students for timely completion.
  • Increase college-going behavior of high school students.

Not a small task, but one that everyone has a stake in. Step up, Milwaukee. One percent could mean $1 billion.

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.