Stark State comes to town
Look at successful cities, and you increasingly find a community college as part of the achievement. That explains the applause for Stark State College coming to Akron. Once the doors open, students here will have a more convenient option for enhancing their skills and finding a higher-paying career.
Stark State reports that already one-quarter of its students reside in Akron and surroundings. They make the commute south. Yet many others find the transportation challenge too difficult to overcome, most often because of money and time. So they cannot take advantage.
With a Stark State campus nearby, offering two-year associate degrees and certification programs, they have an opportunity. The school thinks it can add as many as 5,000 students during its first five years in the city. Which reflects one thing Akron must achieve to boost its prospects — improve the quality of its work force.
If, in this knowledge-driven global economy, everyone doesn’t need a college degree, most still must gain some amount of higher education.
Stark State will fill a void, and more, it brings a lower price tag, no small factor when many students carry a heavy debt load for their education.
The college complements the University of Akron. (Successful cities have research universities, too.) Stark State is part of Akron becoming more attractive, including an embrace of immigrants and refugees who also will benefit from the school having a presence. Proof of the value can be seen in the way the college already works well with the Akron Public Schools.
If the arrival of Stark State fits into the larger city strategy of developing talent, adding population and boosting economic activity, it also mirrors what the state is seeking to achieve for workforce training. Thus, it should be an easy call for the Statehouse to put up the requested for $4 million in capital money to help locate the campus in Akron.
A Summit County initiative that neatly complements these efforts was unveiled this week. Summit Workforce Solutions has become ConxusNEO, a program designed to link more effectively employers looking for workers with workers looking for employment. Policymakers long have struggled to make this connection. A leap forward with Conexus comes in the deeper participation of employers. They are identifying and sharing more the skills they need.
The program (www.conexus.jobs) serves as something of a clearinghouse, expanding the pool of potential applicants and the opportunities for those seeking jobs.
No surprise that Stark State has a role in the training component. Now its ties to the city will expand further. Which is just what Akron needs, a community college within close reach, as a genuine gateway to technical skills or as a place to gather educational momentum for a four-year degree elsewhere. Whatever the path, individual students won’t be the sole beneficiaries. The greater city stands to gain with Stark State coming to town.
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“Stark State comes to town” Editorial. Beacon Journal Editorial Board, 15 March. 2016. Web. http://www.ohio.com/editorial/editorials/stark-state-comes-to-town-1.669343?localLinksEnabled=false.