Southeast Community did its homework prior to announcing its $42.7 million tech education tower.
The significant investment, reported last week by Journal Star higher education writer Chris Dunker, will serve students and also function as a hub for businesses that, according to college officials, want to “re-skill or up-skill” their existing workforce.
The Sandhills Global Technology Center, which is planned east of the Health Science Facility that opened on SCC’s Lincoln campus in 2021, would be followed by a science-focused facility to be built within five years.
The center is expected to help SCC address the state’s growing workforce needs in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields, which are expected to grow by 11% between 2018 and 2028, according to the Nebraska Bureau of Labor Statistics.
SCC intends to tap its capital improvement funds and private donors as well as employ facility use fees to pay for the project. Six years ago, SCC saw a $369 million bond initiative fail at the ballot box. This project reflects a more creative, measured and cautious approach.
And students, businesses and the community as a whole will be the better for it.
SCC already has about $8 million in funds pledged to the project, including $5 million from Sandhills Global of Lincoln.
The collaboration with the business community is both smart and creative. It's an approach that has helped to make SCC an effective agent in preparing a new generation to enter the workforce.
The model is being used by the community college to solve a workforce shortage that has hampered just about every industry. And as this project bears fruit, we hope other industries will see the success and forge partnerships or fund programs.
In addition, its culinary arts program, which features a full-service restaurant that is open to the public, teaches both the art of cooking as well as the business of it.
The school is proving to be a viable alternative to the high cost of four-year colleges and universities by providing opportunities to a lot of people -- single mothers, low-income community members and people of color -- who might not otherwise be able to afford the rising cost of college.
The ability to go straight into an in-demand position with a two-year associate's degree comports with a shift in the effectiveness of higher education. The high cost of a college degree has plunged millions of students into debt as they enter the workforce. Over the last decade, America's total student debt has more than doubled to $1.7 trillion.
It's no wonder that SCC is a smart choice for many area students. And its admirable SCC is making smart choices to serve those student and the community at large.