Isothermal Community College needs to be a leader in economic recovery

Published 3:44 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013

As the new state leadership looks for ways to close budget gaps, an easy target is higher education—especially community colleges. We can all understand with the need to rein in deficits, but cutting deeply in this category is setting themselves up for even worse budget crises down the road. Education is the key to economic recovery, and healthy community colleges are a crucial part of this formula.

One of the many challenges our area faces is shifting from an economy based primarily on textile manufacturing to one that consists of diverse sectors, including the agriculture, (health care) clean energy, recreation and cutting-edge technology.

With this in mind, where can people get the training they need to enter these and other growing sectors? Almost across the board, the answer for the traditional student, the laid-off worker, the employee who needs more training is the same: community college and more specifically, Isothermal Community College.

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Isothermal has several things going for it. For one, it has a progressive attitude that says, “help us identify opportunities down the road – we’re ready to provide that education.”

This new thinking is energized by the college’s brand new president, Walter Dalton.  Mr. Dalton is a Rutherford County native. He has spent the last 17 years in public service as a state senator and lieutenant governor, with education and economic growth being his most favored topics.  He sponsored the Innovative Education Initiatives Act which established the award-winning Early College high schools.  He also supported increased funding for North Carolina’s public universities and community colleges and he enjoyed a pro-business reputation in Raleigh.

Most recently, he lost the North Carolina gubernatorial bid, after spending a successful four years in the No. 2 spot.  This loss is probably Isothermal’s gain as it assesses what Rutherford and Polk need to move ahead.