A college degree can pay off in more ways than one.
The Charleston region is competing with 50 other cities around the nation for a $1 million dose of publicity for the one that can show the greatest increase of residents with post-secondary educations.
The so-called Talent Dividend Prize will be awarded by CEOs for Cities, a nonprofit organization focused on urban work, to the metropolitan area that makes the most strides per capita by that measurement over three years, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce said on Wednesday.
"Given our organization's recognition that 50 to 60 percent of the success of a metro area's gross domestic product can be tied to its level of college-degreed employees, it was natural for us to apply," said Bryan Derreberry, president and CEO of the chamber.
The competition is designed as an effort to increase college attainment in America's cities by one percentage point, which CEOs for Cities estimates would be worth $124 billion a year in increased national earnings.
The winner will be announced in September 2014.
"The $1 million will be used to launch a national promotional campaign for the winning city," according to the contest website. "The prize will showcase local talent development at the national level as the thing great cities do."
Calls to CEOs for Cities were not returned,.
Cities around the nation are vying for the money. A few of them include Albany, N.Y., Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles. In South Carolina, Columbia also is chasing the seven-figure prize.
The Charleston Metro Chamber said it is working to come out on top.
"We are planning a new initiative called 'Graduate Charleston' that will focus on improving education outcomes in our region," Derreberry said.
The chamber is discussing establishing a scholarship program for high school graduates to attend Trident Technical College and seek two-year associate degrees.
"We have our finger on the pulse of what this region needs, and we will be taking specific action to meet our immediate skilled workforce needs and anticipate future intellectual capital needs," Derreberry said.