Work force development is among the keys to helping Western Nevada College “become one of the key economic drivers of the community,” the WNC acting president said Tuesday.
Chet Burton told Carson City Rotary Club members at a WNC-hosted luncheon that work force development is “more and more critical,” along with partnerships with manufacturing, all business and the local school district to grow in relevance for the capital city and western Nevada.
“We’re going to have to continue to be nimble and flexible,” he said, using as examples the prospect of unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones, and Tesla Motors as possible economic development for Nevada to which WNC work force development training might prove valuable. “It takes money to make money.”
Drones are being tested at Silver Springs Airport and elsewhere, and Tesla is eying Nevada for a battery plant.
Money, however, is in short supply from the state, and that’s another reason for a need to offer more for less while serving the greater Carson City and Nevada communities, Burton said. He said funding dropped from about $24 million in 2008 to little more than $20 million this year and will decrease to $17.4 million by 2016.
“This (2016) is when the full force of the funding formula kicks in,” he said. “I’m not going to sugar-coat it.”
But he said plans are in place to do more with less, which includes being entrepreneurial, providing the education, training and services to attract and retain students, and finding innovative ways to keep things on an even keel.
“We will keep this place open just as it is,” he said, providing such sound education that students won’t see a difference.
He cited accomplishments even in the face of altered times in the aftermath of the so-called Great Recession: more students obtaining degrees or job-pertinent certifications; the WNC program for military service veterans, which he said is a model for others; and the Hispanic program that has helped increase enrollment of such students.
He said Hispanic enrollment a dozen years ago was 7 percent; now it is 18 percent.
He said among WNC’s goals are governance and management leading to return on investment, a term that comes out of his background in business and education finance. At the same time, he stressed a WNC with high-quality academics, along with the work force development that is key to community needs.
“If we don’t prepare that next generation, we haven’t done our job,” said Burton.