Erie County would own the educational facility and lease it to NPRC which is based out of Warren and serves nine counties in the region.
A community college is coming to Erie County, but not a traditional one. County officials are partnering with Northern Pennsylvania Regional College to bring a workforce development center to Erie. “My goal is at the end, do we still have the same results, do we have a trained workforce for today and for tomorrow? Do we meet the needs of our employers? Do we meet the needs of our citizens who need the training?” said County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper.
The biggest difference between this partnership and just creating an Erie County based community college is the cost to taxpayers.
Since NPRC is funded by state, Erie County taxpayers would not be responsible for providing matching funds. The site for the community college has not been chosen yet, but Dahlkemper says they want a building large enough to house equipment. “We will have state of the art equipment in there and when they leave the NPRC with their certificate or their degree, one year, two year degree, they will have the ability to just walk right into their place of work and be ready to go,” Dahlkemper added.
Government and business leaders in Crawford County have said there are hundreds of jobs available in there, but not enough trained workers to fill them. This could be a solution.
The president of NPRC says this workforce development center would help keep residents in the region and supply local businesses with skilled workers. “If someone says ‘hey there are jobs in Erie or jobs in counter support in St. Mary’s then I’ll move there in anticipation of that work. We are a resource to train those people and prepare them for the workforce,” said Joe Nairn, founding president at NPRC.
Out of the nine counties that NPRC serves, Erie County would be on the only area to have a freestanding educational building.
Once the everything is finalized with the building, the county would then figure out curriculum and scholarship options.