The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

November 2, 2012

New ECC facility will support economic development, growth

Guest Column
Randi Dikeman

TARBORO — The North Carolina Department of Commerce states that “almost without exception, businesses cite North Carolina’s high quality workforce as a key factor in their decisions to locate or expand in the state.”

The North Carolina Community College System is a key partner with the Department of Commerce in providing workforce development services to the residents of North Carolina. Edgecombe Community College has served Edgecombe County in this role for 45 years.

On Tuesday, you will cast your vote on the quarter-cent sales tax referendum. Your choice could increase opportunities for our citizens to prepare and train for highly valued jobs and support the economic development of Edgecombe County.

What Is Workforce Development?

Workforce development is an approach to economic development that focuses on people to enhance a region’s economic prosperity.

Workforce development assists individuals in acquiring the skills necessary to enter the workforce and in improving their skills in order to continue to be successful in the workplace. It is a lifelong learning process.

The Corporate and Community Development Division at Edgecombe Community College promotes this lifelong learning process by offering a wide range of programs and services for individuals and businesses. Courses can be offered on or off campus, day or night, whenever or wherever there is a need.

The broad areas of continuing education offered through Corporate and Community Development are Business & Industry Services, College and Career Readiness, Health Occupations, Hispanic/Latino Initiatives, Human Resources Development (employability skills), Public Safety, the Small Business Center, and Special Programs.

In 2011-12, Corporate and Community Development at Edgecombe Community College served 1228 individuals in fire, emergency medical services, and law enforcement training and 976 employees in local industries.

Over 1,200 classes were held with enrollment equivalent to over 500 full-time students. About 95 percent of all public safety personnel in Edgecombe County receive training at Edgecombe Community College. Ten different businesses received customized training specifically designed for their employees to support job growth and productivity enhancement.

To-date, through Corporate and Community Development, over 3,000 Edgecombe County residents (equal to 1 out of every 8 members of the Edgecombe County workforce) have earned a Career Readiness Certificate or CRC. This performance places Edgecombe County in the top 5 counties in North Carolina.

The CRC is a national credential that verifies an individual’s basic workplace skills and is preferred by over 500 employers throughout North Carolina and many more across the nation.

The North Carolina Back-to-Work program is available through June 2013 at Edgecombe Community College (one of 16 colleges out of the 58 in North Carolina). North Carolina Back-to-Work is a training program to prepare North Carolinians facing long-term unemployment.

The program provides students with 1) job training and retraining in technical education areas; 2) employability skills, including Career Readiness Certificate; and 3) third-party, industry-recognized credentials.

Priority: Workforce Training Center

Although we are proud of our Edgecombe Community College campuses and use them efficiently, it takes up-to-date and flexible resources to continue to support the needs of the workplace.

The construction priority for the Tarboro campus is the Workforce Training Center, a center directly impacting skill sets required for business and industry. The new facility will centralize the college’s workforce development programs, including training for business and industry, criminal justice, emergency medical services, fire and rescue, law enforcement, and warehouse and logistics.

The proposed 24,000-square-foot building will feature large training rooms designed for EMT, fire and rescue, and law enforcement training.

In addition, a dedicated industry work cell will enable new industry in the county to launch operations on a small scale while their permanent sites are being constructed. Existing industry could utilize the work cell to test new initiatives, and small businesses could operate in the facility while they build their client base.

Help Us Make It Happen

The college understands that the local economy is still struggling from high unemployment and a flat economy; however, post-recovery jobs require top quality training, training that is best provided in modern facilities with up-to-date technology.

The revenue from the quarter-cent sales tax would provide the funding stream to move forward with the planning, design, and construction of a Workforce Training Center without an increase in property taxes. Providing advanced facilities for workforce training improves the lives of all Edgecombe residents.

Our goal at the college is to provide programs and job training to promote economic recovery for all Edgecombe citizens – and it will continue to be. When our children grow up they need a local higher education option where they can receive exceptional training at a reasonable cost. We’re committed to providing that option, but we need your help.

Please support Edgecombe Community College.

(Randi Dikeman, Ed.D. is Dean of Corporate and Community Development at Edgecombe Community College.)