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College’s Regional Impact Highlighted at Orlando Roundtable
February 10, 2014 - Eastern Florida State College’s importance to the Central Florida region was spotlighted today during a meeting of higher education leaders in Orlando who discussed issues ranging from workforce training to funding.
The Higher Education Roundtable was sponsored by the Orlando Business Journal, and included Eastern Florida President Dr. Jim Richey and top officials from seven other area colleges and universities.
Richey told the gathering that Eastern Florida State College’s economic impact continues growing, pumping $1.1 billion annually into the Brevard and Central Florida economies through direct spending and the higher wages and skills of its graduates.
He also said the college’s Career Planning & Development Center has served nearly 28,000 students since it opened two years ago, and is playing a key role in providing businesses with new employees.
The center helps steer students into the career tracks that best suit them through advising, internships, mentoring and job fairs.
“They’re getting all the information they need, all the tools they need, to be successful when they leave,” he said.
Richey also said the college’s new soccer complex on the Melbourne Campus is providing an additional boost to the Space Coast economy, with national collegiate and state high school championship tournaments there drawing thousands of visitors.
“You’re talking about millions of dollars in people coming to town and spending their money” at local hotels and restaurants, showing the complex is benefiting the entire community, said Richey.
In another area, Richey said the college is partnering with aircraft companies at Melbourne International Airport’s commercial aviation hub to create training programs to staff their fast-growing workforce.
The effort is expected to help create hundreds of jobs in the years ahead.
“We’re working very, very closely to get them the programs they need to expand, and when we get those online it’s going to have a huge impact in our community,” Richey said.
Other college leaders also discussed their gains while expressing concerns about possible state and federal funding cuts that could dent scholarships and cause more delays in repairing aging buildings.
Nonetheless, they said Central Florida’s colleges and universities provide a strong nucleus that can drive regional economic growth by graduating students who can compete in the global economy and fostering innovative links with business and industry.
The other participants in the roundtable were: Sandy Shugart, President, Valencia College; Ann McGee, President, Seminole State College; Charles Mojock, President, Lake-Sumter State College; Wendy Libby, President, Stetson University; Lewis Duncan, President, Rollins College; Garry Jones, President, Full Sail University; Dale Holsenbeck, Vice President for University Relations, University of Central Florida.