College of the Canyons officials were pleased to learn the college’s ongoing efforts to help spur state-wide economic development mirror the guiding principles and strategies outlined in Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom’s recently released Economic Growth and Competitiveness Agenda for California.
The Lt. Governor’s Economic Growth Agenda outlines the initial steps of the current administration’s plan to help California bounce back from the ongoing economic downturn, while also outlining the steps necessary to begin building a post-recession “Next Economy.”
“This document, and the actions it calls for, outlines how we can retake control and drive forward again, moving California back into the lead on sustainable growth and real job creation—regaining our leadership role as America’s opportunity capital,” said Newsom in the report’s introduction. “It marks the beginning of a statewide conversation about how we can win again.”
In the report, Newsom points to a number of key objectives that the state’s economic shareholders — including the state’s 112-member Community College System — should continue working toward.
Highlighting the report were Newsom’s calls for a reinvigoration of the state’s manufacturing industry; the continued support of new and innovative technologies; an acceleration of California’s “clean economy”; and the continued establishment of an educated and highly skilled workforce that will be ready to meet the labor demands of the “Next Economy.”
Also included were a number of suggested best practices that state and local agencies should consider implementing into their day-to-day operations and planning strategies. Those included an organized and streamlined approach to local and statewide economic development practices, and the practice of community partnerships, regional alliances and new forms of collaboration.
“I am pleased to see the depth of analysis and innovative recommendations in the Lt. Governor’s Economic Growth Agenda for California,” said COC Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “College of the Canyons has long held a strong commitment to economic development as part of the mission of the California community colleges. We strive to develop partnerships, integrate economic and workforce development, and establish new programs that invigorate manufacturing, clean technologies, support small business, and create opportunities for student success and degree attainment. The Economic Growth agenda provides an excellent roadmap and structure for economic recovery and California competitiveness.”
With a prolonged commitment, and regional approach, to economic and workforce development, the College of the Canyons Economic Development Division (EDD) has continually worked to advance the region’s manufacturing and technology industries through a number of projects and partnerships.
The EDD is home to the Advanced Technology Business Incubator (ATI), designed to provide business consulting and assistance to technology-based start-up companies, and the award-winning Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) regional center, which provides business assistance and technical training to regional companies involved in both advanced technology and manufacturing.
Continued grant funding has also allowed the college to dedicate resources to provide training to new and incumbent employees in the areas of welding, manufacturing technology and precision assembly processes. The college has also established an Emerging Technology program — complete with state-of-the-art clean room and cutting-edge manufacturing/engineering equipment.
More recently, College of the Canyons has increased its contributions to a number of “clean economy projects.” Including all industry sectors that produce goods and services with an environmental benefit, clean economy related projects at COC include several grants the college has secured to fund the creation of new curriculum and workforce training opportunities in the areas of alternative energy.
In 2010, College of the Canyons received a four-year, $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to oversee the establishment of the California Regional Consortium for Engineering Advances in Technical Education (CREATE) Renewable Energy Regional Center. As part of that project, COC continues to serve in a leadership role to form regional partnerships and begin developing renewable energy programs at partner colleges throughout the state.
“Our goal is to make sure the curricula of all our consortium colleges meet industry needs,” said Kathy Alfano, COC faculty member and Director of the CREATE Center.
This fall, College of the Canyons will debut its own solar energy technician certificate program. Upon successful completion of the solar program students will posses a detailed understanding of the PV and solar thermal energy technologies currently being employed, and will be qualified to accept entry-level positions in the fields of solar PV and solar thermal design, installation and maintenance.
“All of our new solar technology courses and program optionshave been developed in conjunction with an advisory board composed of local businesses and industry representatives to make sure the curriculum addresses the direct needs of the industry,” said Kristin Houser, Dean of Career Technical Education at the college.
Indeed, industry partnerships and other forms of collaborations have continued to play an important role in how the college addresses key economic and workforce development issues.
Collaborative efforts between the college and nearby Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital (HMNMH), Aerospace Dynamics International, as well as other industry-specific companies in the areas of welding, green technology and automotive technology, have all yielded new employment opportunities for COC students.
Strategic partnerships also exist between the college and the City of Santa Clarita, William S. Hart Union High School District, the County of Los Angeles, regional Workforce Development Boards and other key economic and workforce orientated organizations including the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation (SCVEDC), which is located inside the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center.
The SCVEDC works to provide an integrated approach to attracting, retaining and expanding a diversity of business and industry in the Santa Clarita Valley. With an overarching focus on the creation of high-paying jobs for the local workforce, the SCVEDC is dedicated to promoting the existence of an educated workforce and positioning the SCV and its businesses to better compete in the global economy.
“At the SCVEDC we are already acting on many of the principles outlined in the Lieutenant Governor’s economic agenda,” said Jonas Peterson, President and CEO of the SCVEDC. “Our partnership with College of the Canyons has allowed us to tie education with workforce development, and business attraction and retention, for the good of the entire valley. Any additional support that comes as a result of this report would be a welcome addition to our efforts.”
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