Archive for Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Leaders seeking to attract branch campus of community college, new economic development board told

November 13, 2012

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Lawrence economic development leaders are actively recruiting an area community college to locate a branch campus in the county to provide more vocational and technical training to workers.

Greg Williams, president and CEO of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, told the newly formed Lawrence-Douglas County Joint Economic Development Council that more vocational training opportunities are needed to help attract new employers to the region.

“We are in serious and good discussions with leadership of area community colleges,” Williams said. “They see a real need to bring a satellite campus of a community college to Lawrence. That could be a game changer for this community when it comes to vocational training.”

Lawrence Mayor Bob Schumm said the need for more vocational training opportunities became evident when Lawrence recently was eliminated as a finalist for a manufacturing plant for wind-generating equipment, in part, because the company wanted to be in an area with more vocational training.

“I think technical education is one of the big missing pieces of the puzzle,” Schumm said.

The Joint Economic Development Council held its first meeting on Tuesday afternoon. The new advisory board is appointed by the city of Lawrence, Douglas County and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. The cities of Eudora and Baldwin City also have ex-officio members on the board.

Williams, who chairs the group, told members the purpose of the council was to help develop policies and strategies to make the county more competitive and efficient in economic development.

“Most of our discussions will be at the 50,000-foot level,” Williams said. “We will not ask you to get in the weeds of a specific project.”

Members of the board, which will meet at least quarterly, include:

• Mike Wildgen, a former Lawrence city manager (county appointee)

• Leslie Soden, an East Lawrence Neighborhood Association leader (city appointee)

• Lawrence Mayor Bob Schumm

• Douglas County Commissioner Mike Gaughan

• Jeremy Farmer, Lawrence nonprofit executive (county appointee)

• John Ross, chairman of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce

• Brad Finkeldei, Lawrence attorney (chamber appointee)

• Greg Williams, president and CEO of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce

• Jon Josserand, former state and federal lobbyist (city appointee)

• Tim Caboni, vice chancellor for public affairs, Kansas University (KU appointee)

• Gregory Thomas, department of design, Kansas University (chamber appointee)

• LaVerne Epp, Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority.

Comments

lunacydetector 2 years, 6 months ago

probably best to get KU's blessing and promise not to compete, ever, and in writing.

chootspa 2 years, 6 months ago

There's already a branch of a local community college in Lawrence: http://www.jccc.edu/close-to-home/close-to-home-lawrence.html

So is this discussion with another college, or do they just want the campus to expand its offerings?

kuguardgrl13 2 years, 6 months ago

I would think it would be JCCC. There are already a large number of KU students who take non-degree classes at Johnson County instead of KU gen eds.

chootspa 2 years, 6 months ago

DeVry is a private for-profit and costs much more while providing less value.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 6 months ago

Greg Williams is quite likely on the money. The need was recognized about 10 years ago. Better late than never. Not everyone needs or wants to attend a 4 year institution.

Move the $25 million from the Field House project to a Vo-Tech campus. This will provide better paying jobs which will be supported in large part by tuition and fees. People like attending school in Lawrence,Kansas.

Now we're on to something...

About commerce ...BTW does anyone know of any Rubbermaid buildings or cabinets for sale.

cowboy 2 years, 6 months ago

Bring the tech certificate programs to Lawrence like HVAC. Use Eco Devo funds to support. This is truly a job creator unlike the "make already rich people richer" programs we have now. Teach people a salable trade skill . Invest in our own Lawrence !

Richard Heckler 2 years, 6 months ago

"Lawrence Mayor Bob Schumm said the need for more vocational training opportunities became evident when Lawrence recently was eliminated as a finalist for a manufacturing plant for wind-generating equipment, in part, because the company wanted to be in an area with more vocational training.

“I think technical education is one of the big missing pieces of the puzzle,” Schumm said."

JCCC is only 20 miles away. They in fact are set up to train in the areas of new energy construction and maintenance...... last I heard.

deec 2 years, 6 months ago

That seemed weird to me as well. The metro has several community colleges.

deec 2 years, 6 months ago

I agree Lawrence could use a junior college. My point was there are numerous educational institutions within an easy commute for those with cars, so it seemed odd that a company would reject Lawrence based on this factor.

chootspa 2 years, 6 months ago

There's a bus that goes back and forth, but it does take more time to commute. It's also not an option for high school students who want to take advantage of state funded tech programs.

I think an expanded Lawrence campus would be great for the community. You just have to get KU off their back about what they can offer here. From what I've gathered, that's been the biggest hurdle. KU doesn't want a single program or class to be a duplicate of a KU offering. That actually wipes out a lot of technical programs and two year degrees. You need to take English and math for an associate's degree.

chootspa 2 years, 6 months ago

This, exactly. KU can up their admissions standards and allow easier matriculation for JCCC students if they work together to make sure all the courses meet KU's standards. JCCC can also spend more time on remedial courses for those students who need it, and that means they don't have to deal with that stupid new law about state funding for remedial courses. By the time a student going through JCCC gets to KU, they'll have a much greater chance at actually graduating.

Both higher selective admissions and higher graduation rates will mean better US News rankings for the college, and everyone wins.

Well, except in the short term, when KU sees a drastic drop in the number of people enrolled in basic studies courses. But, come on. We all already know you can take them much cheaper at Juco. Work on recruiting those higher out of state tuition dollars to make up for it. Or prove that your university is worth the higher fees.

oldbaldguy 2 years, 6 months ago

Bingo. If not they have to go Coffeyville or Hutchinson.

Carol Bowen 2 years, 6 months ago

Maintaining and upgrading equipment for VoTech programs is expensive. Auto mechanics, for example, is very computerized and changing. Business and industry needs to set up training programs using their equipment and in their facilities. A community college can provide support in accounting and so on. Tax dollars cannot afford to support equipment related curricula.

chootspa 2 years, 6 months ago

Unless the businesses that would benefit are also part of the tax base.

Ladybug2 2 years, 6 months ago

It seems that Johnson County Community College has already made a commitment to Lawrence since they offer classes here. Why "recruit" a college when they are already here. Work with them on expanding the curriculum to offer what the community leaders would like to see offered. I've taken classes there and think they are a wonderful school.

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