BCI: A Partner in Business Growth

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The current business climate in Michigan is forcing employers to make their people smarter faster and reassess their strategic goals to remain competitive.

So, whether it’s evaluating the effectiveness of your workforce, leadership development for business managers or quality systems gap analysis, the Business & Community Institute (BCI) at Lansing Community College wants to be your partner.

BCI, a division of LCC, has offered business solutions to mid-Michigan businesses for 30 years. It has helped corporations, government, academia, nonprofits and small business through development of employees and business practices. The program offers experts in quality, manufacturing, communication and a vast array of technical areas.

However, despite a long history of success, it is still considered by many mid-Michigan business leaders to be an underutilized business resource.

“Our charge from the institution is to provide performance improvement solutions to the business and private sector. Our relationship with the community is business to business, as opposed to institution to student,” explained Dean Souden, executive director of LCC’s Business & Community Institute.

Further, the goal of BCI is to assist companies in assessing their people and their processes to allow them to improve their business, Souden explained.

The current economic slowdown has forced many business managers to have their employees retrained to learn new skills, Souden said, or they at least need to upgrade their current skills to remain competitive in this business climate.

Services can be delivered at the company site, at any of the LCC campuses or even online. BCI pulls from a network of qualified LCC faculty, highly qualified consultants and training specialists.

Traditionally focused on manufacturing, BCI has recently shifted its focus to include growing sectors of the economy like banking, insurance, government, construction and healthcare.

“Much like the state has, we have made a concerted effort to develop materials and clients in the nonmanufacturing segment,” Souden said. “And these are businesses that range from large companies like Sparrow Healthcare to very small companies.”

BCI helped nearly 50 local companies through training or performance improvement support during the academic year from July 2005 to June 2006. It trained over 4,000 people, delivering some 114,500 hours of training.

Souden said in addition to leadership training a major push is coming in the area of assessment and performance improvement support.

“For instance, through needs assessment and being engaged with a company we can sometimes determine that what they thought was a training issue is actually a communication issue instead, which allows us to tap the right expertise,” Souden said.

Linda Nichols, BCI account executive, said, “We try to become partners with our clients and ask lots of questions to try and pinpoint their needs. We want them to look to us for business solutions for things like training, consulting, key person coaching and assessment.”

BCI offers a variety of for credit classes and courses and noncredit seminars and has recently introduced two new certificate programs: The Leadership Academy and the Human Performance Improvement Program.

The Leadership Academy will develop leaders that can be effective in today’s highly technical and fast-paced workplace. Core components, taught in half-day or full-day training, include coaching, loyalty, team development and driving performance.

“We have done a lot of leadership training over the years and some of those companies are now coming back to us asking for their employees to go through it. The training requires a month or several months to complete,” Souden stated.

The three certificate levels of the Leadership Academy include the Leadership Skills Certificate, Advance Leadership Skills Certificate and Executive Leadership Certificate. The 32-hour programs cost approximately $600 each.

Meanwhile, Human Performance Improvement takes a holistic approach to determining factors that impede organizational and employee performance. HPI methodology analyzes important employee performance gaps and planning for future improvements based upon the goals of the organization.

BCI was chosen to provide hands-on training to more than 3,000 General Motors Corp. employees during rollout of the new Lansing Delta Township assembly plant, including hands-on technical training at the West Campus to simulate the work environment at the new facility.

“LCC has been able to provide professional instructors with the appropriate skills set for the course we needed,” said Ron Lavigne, launch training manager for GM’s Delta Township plant. “The [West Campus] has an esthetically pleasing learning environment with state of the art equipment to train on.”

Classes included a practical problem solving course and simulated work environment class for everyone coming into the new plant.

“We also held tech weld classes in the West Campus weld labs. The location of West Campus in proximity to Lansing Delta Township was a huge benefit for us,” Lavigne said.

More importantly, Lavigne added, BCI worked with GM to develop technical material and exercises and class presentations to teach the schedule, which covered a very specific computer network system for the auto manufacturer.

“It is obvious that BCI was critical in training our large new workforce and have them ready to begin production,” Lavigne noted.

BCI also helped develop a new series of educational training programs for the Greater Lansing Home Builders Association, a nonprofit trade association representing more than 600 homebuilders and remodelers across mid-Michigan.

“Our 30 educational programs launched this year through BCI will help those in the building industry enhance skills needed to improve their home building process, as well as be successful business owners,” said Elyse Kopietz, marketing director for GLHBA.

In addition, GLHBA and BCI are teaming to offer pre-licensing classes to the general public wishing to sit for the test to obtain their Michigan Builders License.

Training and assessment costs vary by business sector and depend on the number of employees to be trained. Souden said the norm is close to $8,000 for training that is created for a specific business.

The Michigan Technical Education Center (M-TEC), which is sometimes referred to as the West Campus, is the “concept that says there is a place in the community for businesses to come for support,” explained Souden, who is also executive director of M-TEC.

“BCI is really the portal where the business community connects to LCC when they are searching for training and assessment,” Souden explained.Cover2-mar07-small

Funding for BCI comes through Lansing Community College, some of which is in the form of grants for specific training projects. BCI expects to be self-sustaining by sometime in 2007, Souden stated.

Another component to BCI is the Capital Quality Initiative, which is dedicated to the advancement of quality in the Lansing area. The nonprofit, private organization holds monthly breakfast and lunch programs and is dedicated to providing learning opportunities in quality and continuous improvement.

“Quality is really a high level of products and services that meet your customers needs, but quality management with vision values is very important. We focus on understanding and using a systems approach to continuous improvement,” said Adrian Bass, director of CQI.

Souden said BCI is well positioned for future growth thanks to its many attributes and business resources.

“The move to West Campus in 2005 has been very beneficial for us. We will continue to embrace the business community and engage them not only through our technical and skilled trades programs, but now [also through serving] many other business sectors that need help with assessment, training or consulting,” Souden said.

Author: Randy J. Stine
Photography: Terri Shaver

LCC Business & Community Institute

Dean souden, Executive Director

5708 Cornerstone Dr., Lansing

517-487-1857 • www.lcc.edu/bci

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