By Myra Saturen
December 06, 2012
Northampton Community College held its second "Public Official in Residence Day" on December 6 at the Fowler Family Southside Center. State Representative Rosemary Brown, whose district includes parts of Monroe and Pike counties, was this year's public official in residence.
As part of her day at NCC, Brown joined Mayor of Bethlehem John Callahan, former Pennsylvania Senator Joe Uliana and College staff and students for a luncheon in which they discussed the role of the Fowler NCC site in South Bethlehem's economic redevelopment.
The meeting focused on the positive impact the Fowler Center has had on the regional and local economies and the mutually beneficial partnerships NCC and local businesses maintain with each other to the advantage of the area, especially in the hospitality and technical fields.
The group discussed the role NCC plays in anticipating and filling workforce needs. Brown expressed appreciation for the ways in which the College strengthens job development in the community. "I know the value of your education and the ways this institution positions the community for high-priority occupations," she said. She remarked that meetings such as this one enable her to connect faces to College administration and give her ideas about enhancing state governments' input.
Joe Kelly, Director of Community and Economic Development for Bethlehem, talked about the attraction NCC programs have for existing and relocating businesses. "NCC was here, investing in South Bethlehem long before it was trendy," he said. "NCC took a building that had been corporate headquarters for Bethlehem Steel and got out in front to help South Bethlehem grow. People who live here can now take classes here and get a job right down the street in the Sands Casino or in industry. I tell employers that they can come here and find employees with specialized training. He said that the Fowler Center also provides opportunities and training where it is most needed.
Referring to the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Kelly pointed out that South Bethlehem residents could once find a job in their neighborhood, earn a good salary and send their children to college. This is the kind of opportunity the Fowler Center is once again providing. "This [mobility] is what makes a community great, and Fowler's location in South Bethlehem is a great example."
Mayor Callahan highlighted NCC's responsiveness to community economic needs. "The relationship between NCC and the City of Bethlehem is great. NCC is nimble in developing programs when a need exists, and the College responds before anyone else does. NCC is a catalyst for good things happening," he said. "Whether students have earned GEDs or associate degrees or taken ESL classes--you name it, you have it all here. Companies have a talent pool, be it for executives or on-the-line employees. "
All participants stressed the cooperation between the College, regional and local government and the business community in creating a vital area. Kelly remarked that the state is an enormous player in the region's success. NCC President Mark Erickson said that he likes to see NCC as a place where community members can congregate to discuss workforce development. "We're good at this as a neutral body, have been good at it for a long time, and we will do even more."
Representative Brown said that NCC represents the model for the progress the state wants to see. "Legislators like to see efficiency and a good return on investments."
Brown asked questions about the NCC Monroe Campus. NCC administrators envision the Monroe Campus becoming, in part, a focus for development in biotechnical and medical fields--a regional initiative. NCC already provides training for sanofi pasteur employees and many other entities.
At the luncheon, students in NCC's GED and Certified Nursing Assistant programs spoke movingly about the opportunities NCC has afforded them. Paul Pierpoint, vice president for Community Education and Dean of the Southside Center, lauded the students' bravery in returning to school and their hard work in achieving their goals. "You had the courage to walk out of that elevator and into our offices. I am proud of you," he said.
The Public Official Day-in-Residence also included a tour of the Fowler Center, a classroom visit by Brown, a car tour of the Bethlehem Steel Plant Redevelopment Project, a tour of Main Campus, a meet-and-greet with student leaders, and a reception with President Mark Erickson's cabinet and the NCC board.
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