Community College vote tomorrow morning

A last-minute push to rally support behind a community college in Erie County ahead of a big vote by County Council tomorrow morning.  

It's been talked about for decades, but this time seems promising to bring a community college to Erie County.  More groups showed their support today.

Erie County council Chairman Jay Breneman saying they have the four votes needed to pass the resolution in support of bringing the institution to the county.  "The cost doesn't tend to spike after so many years. It's one of those things I know people are concerned about, but I wouldn't anticipate a major bill after that five year period. If it was going to come out, we would know."

Marsha Marsh, Chair of ERCGP, says, "We know it is critical for the Erie region to address workforce challenges... As we grow our economic development efforts, a robust education system with the addition of a community college will be an attractive asset to employers."

A big concern for county residents is who foots the bill after the five year, $3.7 million the Susan Hirt Hagen Fund and ECGRA have promised if Erie County Council votes to create a community college.  

Breneman saying he knows that's a concern, but doesn't see any big surprises in the future.  If council passes the resolution tomorrow morning in a special meeting,l the next step would be to work with Harrisburg and the Department of Education.  The meeting is tomorrow at 9am.  We will be there and bring you the latest..
 
"To push this project over the finish line," says Foundation President Michael L. Batchelor, "we need to share Erie's story with Harrisburg.  The Empower Erie plan has been widely endorsed by many civic, business, labor and professional organizations in Erie County and we are confident that the PA Department of Education and State Board of Education will embrace the creation of this transformational educational institution."
 
Jim Willats, Co-founder and President of Machine Concepts, says, "we know that manufacturing in Erie there's 22,000 jobs and we know that maybe 6-10,000 of those jobs will be retiring over the next 5-10 years. So there's a bright future for manufacturing."
 
While organizations are showing support, some residents are not completely sold on the idea.  A big concern for county residents is who foots the bill after the 3.7 million Hirt Hagen Fund and ECGRA have promised.  Calvin Lydic, resident, says, "I just worry about where they're going to come up with the money. The County Council, I don't think they realize if they take it on and the state can't fund it, it's all going to come from the county."
 
The Community Foundation also donating $100,000 to help implement phase two of the project, as long as council votes to support the community college Tuesday morning at 9.  
 
We will be there and bring you the latest on our facebook page.
 
 
 
 

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