Making an impact

Iowa Central is key part of area economy

-Submitted photos The Iowa Central Community College Fort Dodge campus has expanded greatly since the college’s early days in the 1960s.

The impact that Iowa Central Community College has on the region extends far beyond the degrees and certificates it awards to students each year.

It has an economic impact of about $217 million a year, according to a study by Ernie Goss, the MacAllister Chair and professor of economics at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

And the job training that the college provides is a “huge component to economic development,” according to Kelly Halsted, the economic development director for the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

Former state Sen. Daryl Beall, a Fort Dodge Democrat, has witnessed the importance of the college since its beginning. He was the student body president in 1967 and in that role he joined former Fort Dodge Mayor Albert Habhab for the groundbreaking ceremony at the Fort Dodge campus.

“Iowa Central is an essential partner in providing skilled workers for area businesses, health providers and manufacturers,” Beall said. “This role must be continued and expanded to attract and keep businesses and people in our area.”

Beall said he’s not quite in the same good physical shape he was in when he and Habhab handled the ceremonial shovels. He added that the buildings that he and the former mayor broke ground for aren’t in top condition anymore either.

That’s why Beall said he’s publicly supporting the proposed $25.5 million bond issue that would pay for physical improvements at all of the college’s sites.

Voters in Buena Vista, Calhoun, Greene, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Sac, Webster and Wright counties will weigh in on the bond issue during a Feb. 6 referendum. To pass, the bond issue must be approved by 60 percent of those voting.

If the bond issue is approved, $3 million will be invested in the Science Building, $1 million will be invested in the Applied Science and Technology Building, and $500,000 will be invested in the Liberal Arts Building. Those are three of the original buildings on the Fort Dodge campus.

Another $6 million would be spent to build the new Student Success Center on the Fort Dodge campus. Bill Greehey, a Fort Dodge Senior High graduate who was the chief executive officer of Valero Energy Corp., has donated $3 million for the center.

An additional $3 million would be spent upgrading Decker Auditorim on the Fort Dodge campus. Remodeling the Student Services Building would be accomplished with $2 million of bond issue money.

But bond issue money would not be limited to the Fort Dodge campus. The college’s plan calls for spending $3 million for safety and security improvements at the Eagle Grove, Fort Dodge, Storm Lake and Webster City campuses. And $3 million would be spent to create new career academies that would bring college classes to high school students.

A new biofuels testing lab would be built with $2 million of bond issue money.

And a new industrial training center would be built in Storm Lake with $2.5 million from the bond issue.

The Webster City Center would receive $500,000 worth of improvements.

Economic impact of Iowa Central

About once a decade, the college leadership commissions a study of the school’s economic impact. The most recent of those studies was done by Goss in 2014.

That study found an economic impact of about $217 million. That includes:

• $159.7 million worth of sales;

• $52.1 million worth of wages and salaries;

• $5.5 million in self-employment income.

The study also revealed that for every $1 of local tax support it receives, the college gets $4.48 from the state and federal governments.

Iowa Central and

economic development

College President Dan Kinney said 70 percent of jobs in rural America require a two-year degree or certificate training program. That’s the kind of training Iowa Central provides, he said.

Dennis Plautz, the chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, said Iowa Central trains people for the jobs in places like the industrial park called Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation.

“They’re an absolutely essential part of what we’re doing,” he said.

The Goss study showed that Iowa Central helped area businesses and industries obtain more than $1.1 million worth of Iowa Industrial New Job Training funds. That money helps existing businesses expand while also helping to attract new ones to the area.

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