Great ideas have recently been emerging from Steven Tyrell, president of North Country Community College.
We are excited about the college's proposed projects and programs because the goal is to not only increase enrollment but also boost economic development and bring new jobs to the region. The value of attending a community college and learning something that could lead to a job in a related field has tremendous benefits for students and the community. The three great ideas that were announced recently show us that NCCC is looking at the big picture and not just pumping out students who would fend for themselves once they graduate.
One of the ideas is to build a Welcome Center on Lake Flower Avenue in Saranac Lake, which would give the college more visibility and a better presence. If done right, it will increase enrollment by creating a great first impression, as well as making students feel welcome.
Secondly, the proposed plan to bring more biotech companies to the area and offer classes related to the biotech field will not only increase enrollment, but also offer related jobs locally. Having this partnership of the college and bioresearch facilities right in our own backyard will hopefully prevent our young population from fleeing the Adirondacks.
Focusing on the Saranac Lake region's strengths and development opportunities was the result of a 2009 Comprehensive Economic Development Study by Camoin Associates. Its vision statement starts by saying "The greater Saranac Lake region of the Adirondacks is poised to become a distinguished location for environmental and biological based businesses." We agree that the North Country area is the perfect fit for achieving this vision. (For more on this CEDS study go to: www.egovlink.com/public_documents300/saranaclake/published_documents/Community%20Development/Comprehensive%20Economic%20Development%20Strategy.pdf.)
Lastly, expanding the vacant Hotel Flanagan to invigorate Malone as a college town will certainly help the economy as college officials work to get private funding with the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. NCCC also hopes to offer a four-year degree program, possibly related to food service. Developing a hydropower project has also been talked about, again a win-win for students and economic growth.
What better time to be an ambassador for North Country Community College than now. Students can attend the college at an affordable rate, live at home and save on housing costs, and learn something that is specific for jobs in the area. With today's students graduating with large loan debt and unable to find a job after college, going to NCCC makes good common sense. Even if you really have your mind set on attending a prestigious college, transfer there for the remainder of your studies for a really smart move.
We commend Dr. Steven Tyrell and the college for its vision and excellent value in furthering higher education. We are lucky to have such an asset in our communities.