On July 26, Governor MiKe DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted hosted the community college presidents at the governor’s mansion to discuss our role in the future of Ohio’s economy.
A majority of the community college presidents attended the breakfast, including Northwest State Community College’s President Michael Thomson. The presidents expressed strong thanks to the governor and lieutenant governor for the supportive work they did in the recent budget session.
The conversation rotated around two key themes. First, there are some opportunities in the new budget for community colleges to work with businesses and other partners to help better Ohio’s economy. In particular, the “Tech Cred” program was discussed as a primary tool to help Ohio’s incumbent workers upscale and stay current in today’s fast-changing economy. Tech Cred provides funding for in-demand jobs and deepens the partnerships that community colleges already have with Ohio businesses. It will be a major tool for economic development organizations to keep, grow or bring new businesses into Ohio.
Another opportunity in the upcoming budget is the new community college accelerated program. This program, already piloted by three Ohio community colleges, has shown incredible promise to improve graduation rates and speed up progress of students to a credential or a degree. Dr. Thomson, who ran the original pilot program at his previous post and Cleveland, noted, “We’ve made great strides in getting 15 to 20% higher graduation rates and students to a community college degree in three years or less. The Ohio data mirrors previous successes in New York and could provide an express route to get more graduates into the workforce faster.”
The second theme of the conversation was the importance of building new partnerships to leverage our strengths as we move forward. Community colleges already have long-established relationships with local businesses, career centers, K-12 schools and four-year universities. New partners in our work include Ohio’s Job and Family Services, faith-based partners, addiction recovery services, foster care parents and correctional facilities. Dr. Thomson thanked Lieutenant Governor Husted for his visit to the Defiance Dream Center where the first batch of graduates received construction skills, a highly sought after career path in this area.
At the meeting’s close, the community college presidents reiterated their thanks to the administration for providing much-needed resources to help Ohio stay vibrant in today’s fast-changing economy and expressed a strong willingness to collaborate and create new and innovative solutions for our state.