SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - The Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board of Trustees recently passed three new resolutions of support for two local initiatives and a statewide campaign for community colleges, according to a press release provided to WBTV. The first resolution calls for a November 2014 bond referendum in Cabarrus County with a $16 million allotment for Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
The $16 million investment would fund critical projects at the College's South Campus at exit 55 off of I-85, according to the press release. The Cabarrus campus enrolls nearly 10,000 students over the course of a year and serves both students transferring onto four year universities and those seeking career training ranging from fine arts to motorsports management.
"In North Carolina, it's the responsibility of the local county commission to fund the construction and maintenance of community college facilities," said Carl M. Short, chair of the College's Board of Trustees. "It is important that the College's Board of Trustees formally demonstrate its support for these needs. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has been a vital contributor to the economic health of both Rowan and Cabarrus counties for many years and has long been recognized for its important role in the education and retraining of our citizens."
Rowan-Cabarrus would use the funding to expand the South Campus and make critical safety and accessibility improvements. The primary focus would be the construction of an Advanced Technology Center.
"The region is dependent upon the College to provide the workforce talent and education necessary to emerge from the recession and thrive," said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett, who also serves on the College's Board of Trustees. "In order to grow and prosper, we must diversify our economy to retain and attract high-wage, high-demand jobs."
Applications of advanced technology – from automated manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, 3D printing, to cyber security and information assurance – are evolving as growth areas for existing businesses, facilitating a regional culture of entrepreneurship and bringing new technology-centric companies to the area. An Advanced Technology Center will address training needs for companies with high technology demand and emerging jobs through industry-recognized certifications and hands-on skills training in multiple disciplines including, but not limited to: Information Technologies (IT), welding, machining, HVAC, electronics and electrical engineering technologies, mechanical engineering, hydraulics, pneumatics, etc.
Providing the region with exemplary public higher education that anticipates and supports economic and workforce development while increasing, improving and automating services and curriculum programming is a top priority for the College.
"Rowan-Cabarrus is a willing and capable contributor to partnerships that bring new jobs to the area and a leader in producing graduates for existing business expansions," said Dr. Carol. S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. "Our priority is to strengthen the College's contributions through education and civic leadership."
A building or space to house a program is only part of the equation. The College and community must invest in high quality faculty who can help develop exemplary programs that train people for sustainable careers. Programs like Information Technologies (IT), welding, machining, HVAC, electronics and electrical engineering technologies, mechanical engineering, hydraulics, pneumatics, also require industry standard equipment that is expensive. Support for this equipment, program development, faculty enhancement and facility planning is not supported by either county or state funding.
The scope of work demands resources beyond those available in the College's current budget for comprehensive planning and design to assure a facility and programs that will provide value to local employers.
"The reality is that we are not immune to the tough economic times. Our resources from the state have continued to decline year after year. Like many public organizations, we are looking for private philanthropic resources," said Spalding. "We've worked hard to bring millions of federal and state dollars into our community through grants and collaborative partnerships. We cannot achieve our goal of strengthening our region through state-of-the art educational and innovational career training without adequate resources."
"We currently have invested in some of these areas, but without the additional space, we cannot hope to expand into new and emerging industries. We simply can't build a program if we don't have a place to put it. More importantly, an Advanced Technology Center would be a flagship to help attract employers to the region," continued Spalding.
The College would also use the funding to purchase additional land for the further expansion of South Campus.
"The campus is only 24 acres, compared to the 105 acres on North Campus. This is very small for the vibrant Cabarrus County campus," said Padgett of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board of Trustees.
Funds would also go toward an additional exit from the South Campus parking lot. Currently the two exits feed onto the same small road. In the event of a security threat, access in and out of the campus could prove very challenging.
"It really is a safety issue. We need an additional exit in order to increase our chances of quickly getting students, faculty and staff away from the campus in the event of an emergency," said Spalding. "Situations like this used to be simply theoretical, but they are a tragic reality in today's world. We cannot afford to be unprepared."
Recent discussions of the Cabarrus County Commission resulted in a proposed $9 million bond allotment for the College.
"It is critical that we see the full investment of $16 million for Rowan-Cabarrus Community College," said Padgett. "Support of the College is vital to our community's future."
"These funds are not going to solve all of our problems, but they will certainly help us over the next five years," said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.
The three resolutions include support for:
· The renovation of a Cabarrus educational facility for cosmetology and related programs to replace the existing rental space at Cloverleaf Campus,
· A November 2014 Cabarrus County bond referendum, and
· A General Assembly campaign entitled "Support North Carolina's Economic Recovery by Reinvesting Funds in the State's Community Colleges."
"During recent years of economic turmoil, Rowan-Cabarrus has been a prominent force in attracting and leveraging federal, state and local resources to improve programs and services for the community while ensuring that displaced workers and other citizens receive the training they need to succeed in the workplace. It is essential that the College receives the community support and resources needed to continue on this path and fulfill its stated mission of public higher education," said Short.
For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).