Iowa Central needs your support Feb. 6

Iowa Central Community College and the Area V region is at a crossroads. Decisions that we make today will have an impact both to the area economy and the education opportunities of our children and grandchildren.

On Feb. 6, Iowa Central Community College will ask for voters in the nine counties to support the issuance of $25.5 million dollars in general obligation bonds to support the college’s efforts in three areas; workforce training, accessible, affordable education, and revitalization of northwest Iowa.

The majority of open jobs require a two-year degree or certificate and Iowa Central plays a key role in providing the education. According to the 2016 Iowa Workforce Development workforce needs assessment, 30.8 percent of respondents in our region reported current job vacancies and at the same time 8.8 percent of existing companies were planning to expand their workforce. Documented workforce shortages include the following: Health care, agriculture, manufacturing, engineering, IT, and transportation and logistics. Since that time there have been more than 1,000 new jobs announced across our region (Prestage, Misty Harbor and CJ Bio to name a few). Today, we have a real opportunity to keep our young families here with good paying jobs.

In the fall of 2017, 1,835 unduplicated Area V students took college credit classes while still in high school. Families save an average of $6,000 toward college completion but we must do more to make an education affordable, more accessible and save families even more money.

Iowa Central Community College is an affordable college option for your family, and we must continue to educate the students to become the workforce for our region. To accomplish our vision we must address these key projects which will be accomplished with referendum funding.

Increased safety and security — $3 million: There is a concern about the increase of violence on and off campuses everywhere. We need to provide a safe and secure environment for students, staff, and visitors. The college will install remote controlled exterior door locks and updated interior locks, will increase video surveillance camera, and implement a public safety notification system. Security will be addressed on all campuses.

Student Success Center — $6 million: A new building which will house all student services. This will allow for collaboration among the different student services we offer and allow for an increased focus on student success whether it is a first-time student, a first generation student, a veteran, or a non-traditional student. The current student services building will be renovated to add 10 additional classrooms. The new student success center building has a $3 million dollar private investment by Bill Greehey.

High school career partnerships and training via Career Academies — $2 million: This will allow the college to expand partnerships with area high schools which will give students access to more career, vocational and technical education ,and STEMM classes, where demand for workers in these fields continue to grow. All high schools in Area V will have access to take advantage of this collaboration.

STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Medical) — $4 million: The college needs to renovate the science and applied science and technology building to create innovative classrooms, renovated science labs, increase electrical capacities to support quickly changing technology needed for these areas and deliver a new way of teaching the skills employers demand. A workforce shortage in these fields continues not only in our area, but throughout the state.

Physical improvements to buildings — Liberal Arts, Science, Decker Auditorium — $5.5 million: Our buildings are aging and just like a home, updates are needed for windows, roofs, heating, cooling, parking lots and parking ramp updates. Because of inconsistent state funding, mid-year cuts, and no infrastructure money from the state (like the Regent universities), planned maintenance, continues to be pushed back.

Relocation of the successful Iowa Central Fuel Testing lab & Research Center — $2 million: The current lab has outgrown its space and by relocating this facility closer to the Ag Industrial Park, we can expand services to support the current and future biotechnology and bioproduct manufacturers and expose students to these opportunities.

Storm Lake and Webster City centers — $3 million: Infrastructure, safety and an expanded industrial training facility to serve our western business and industry partners and high schools.

Passage of this bond is an investment in the future of our region and our students. The college has completed all previously funded referendum projects on time and on budget, returning 6 percent on that previous investment.

The approximate cost for a homeowner with a $100,000 assessed value is $12 a year or $1 a month. For a farmer who farms 500 acres with an assessed value of $2,000/acre they would pay an additional $100.12 in taxes annually or $8.34 a month.

This is a small price to keep your college in the best position to serve our communities for years to come. There are many ways to vote on Feb. 6; in person, at the polls in your precinct, by absentee ballot, or early in your local county courthouse.

If you have additional questions or would like a tour of our current facilities, please contact Dr. Dan Kinney or Allyson Walter at 574-1140.

Dr. Dan Kinney is president of Iowa Central Community College.