Businesses need people…that’s a given. And the more advanced, higher level positions demand an educated and skilled workforce. If a company is looking to relocate or add locations, it’s going to do some research, naturally.

If the positions being added require college degrees or advanced experience, then that company wants to know where the pickings will be ripe so they can be confident of being able to fill positions locally and not have to recruit from other cities, which adds expense and time to the hiring process.

So if the company is deciding among locations and your city has a lower percentage of college graduates in its workforce compared to other options, the company will often go elsewhere. You can’t blame them, but it makes it all the more important for communities and civic organizations to promote college readiness in high schools and encourage their citizens to finish degrees and get those diplomas.

One of the biggest fears concerning college, of course, is the expense. It seems so out of reach for so many people, but ICCHE (Index of Community Commitment to Higher Education) comes from an initiative developed by IQS Research that measures a community’s commitment to educating its population through to a bachelor’s degree.

The ICCHE includes programs that focus on high school students who will be going into college, as well as education directed toward parents and adults with existing college credit. It brings awareness about funding, loans, and sponsors, just about anything people need to know about starting or finishing a college degree.

We know that college educated people typically earn vast amounts more over the course of their lifetimes than those without. ICCHE and other programs can help drive graduate numbers up, and as the falling of dominoes, all the other important numbers for the city go up too—tax revenue, employment, and civic involvement, to name a few.

We just need to lay the foundation, bring awareness, and put incentives into place to motivate our citizens to take the risk for a potential great reward for their personal lives as well as the livelihood of their communities.