The Evolving Role of Community Colleges in Economic Development

As our economy continues to evolve and change, so too must the dynamic role a community college plays in economic development. While no community college can be all things to all people, it can stimulate economic growth in a way few organizations can. Lansing Community College (LCC) is doing just that.

LCC works diligently to remain relevant to our business community and strategic partners in many ways. As a community college our ability to create and deliver solutions to companies that help them face the challenges of the market place is critical to the economic vitality of our entire community — a charge Lansing Community College, and community colleges across the country take very seriously.

In a study conducted by the National Coalition for Advanced Technology Centers titled “Community Colleges and Economic Development,” college presidents reflected on how important it is for a college to have economic development as a prominent part of its mission. To achieve the colleges’ mission of contributing to economic development in their communities, presidents interviewed said they had to develop relationships and partnerships with business and industry, education and other groups.

Economic development experts also see community colleges as an integral and vital asset in their effort to attract, retain and grow industry.

Our community is fortunate to have LEAP as our regional economic development advocate. We are proud to support their efforts to attract and retain industry prospects by way of demonstrating our workforce development capacity.

In great part, the resurgence of the US economy will be determined by its ability to support innovation and talent development. Community colleges are designed for such a purpose, via our ability to cultivate intellectual capital through our faculty, staff and students. We recognize that maintaining a close relationship with business and economic development stakeholders is germane to our own understanding of the marketplace and its value-drivers. Subsequently, Lansing Community College offers numerous and diverse resources to our industry partners.

One such program is The Business & Community Institute (BCI). As Executive Director of the BCI, my ultimate goal is to help companies within our region grow. At BCI, we achieve this goal by empowering each company to improve productivity, reduce operational inefficiencies and achieve long-term sustained profitability, leading to job retention and job creation.

Last year, the BCI delivered hundreds of professional development programs to companies and trained thousands of their employees. The following reflects our ability to support regional workforce development efforts:

  • We understand the adult learner
  • We customize the solution
  • Our learners receive credentialing, certificates or continuing education units
  • We have pre-screened and highly qualified trainers/facilitators/consultants
  • We offer value-based pricing
  • We are a one-stop provider
  • We establish long-term relationships
  • We share similar goals with industry and economic development stakeholders

It has been said, and it is true — education is economic development. While most community colleges were originally established to offer affordable, accessible and high-quality education, it was ultimately discovered that the mission was inextricably tied to the health of the community’s economy.

Lansing Community College has, and will always, honor its diverse mission and unique role in regional economic development.
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