Community College of Philadelphia provided its own stimulus for the local economy in May when it hosted three separate seminars focused on how American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds can help grow “green-collar” jobs in Philadelphia.
The first of the trio of seminars, roundtable discussions and workshops called Recovery Act 101, was held May 11 and was co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Commerce Department, the Greater Philadelphia Sustainable Business Network and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Public interest was high in the seminar, so much so that it drew a standing room only crowd of more than 350 people to the College’s Winnet Building, and more than 1,000 potential registrants had to be turned away.
Attending the seminar were government officials, construction contractors, tradesmen, real estate developers, business executives, representatives from community nonprofits, government officials and members of the College family. They were thirsty for information about how they could access some of the $844.1 million in ARRA funds that the federal government has allotted to Philadelphia.
The federal economic stimulus dollars will be used for an array of projects and programs, many of them aimed at expanding and creating green-collar jobs. But government officials were not yet sure how the programs would work or when they would begin.
“Community College of Philadelphia should be focusing on the technology side, as well as business management and financial management,” said James Burnett, executive director for the West Philadelphia Financial Services Institute and one of three panelists who spoke during the seminar. “It takes a certain amount of expertise to put financing together for these new enterprises.”
President Curtis said the College is doing just that. “We are moving quickly to create courses and programs to prepare workers for those green-collar jobs,” President Curtis said in his welcome to the seminar attendees. “We have increased our efforts to provide the community with educational programs and information about how best to capitalize on the green economy.” He also noted that the College is not only teaching green, eco-friendly principles, but incorporating them into more than $87 million in capital construction projects underway at the College’s Main Campus and Northeast Regional Center.
Mayor Michael Nutter also welcomed the seminar participants and announced the city’s new economic recovery Web site, www.phila.gov/recovery. It puts information related to federal stimulus funds—from how much money the city is receiving to projects being funded and contract opportunities—in one place, the mayor said.
Later that same day, U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. met with President Curtis and business, education and nonprofit group leaders at the College’s Center for Business and Industry for an economic roundtable discussion on Pennsylvania’s economy and the potential impact of the federal economic stimulus package. The event was designed to bring together the business community and college leaders to discuss collaborative ways to stimulate the economy and reverse the recent rise in unemployment in Pennsylvania, Casey said.
Casey’s roundtable discussion was followed two days later on Wednesday, May 13, with a third forum, hosted by the College’s Corporate Solutions team, on the utilization of economic stimulus funds to green the city’s economy. The session, “Getting Ready for Change: A Green Economy and Green Jobs,” attracted more than 60 people. The seminar was part of Corporate Solutions’ new program area that is responding to the demand for high quality training in the area of green economy information and green jobs training.
“These workforce solution seminars are held twice a year, in the fall and spring. The topics for the sessions are based on current issues that are germane to the regional workforce,” said Michele Claybrook–Lucas, director of Contract Training and Workforce Development for Corporate Solutions. “Although the topic of green jobs and the economy was not created to be a series, this topic may be of interest in the fall, as stimulus money will be circulating throughout the region.”
Corporate Solutions plans to offer several green job training courses this fall, including Green Home Basics, Green Building for Contractors, Green Building—Concepts and Practice and certification exam Prep Workshops. In addition, the College will offer the LEED certification and Green Advantage exams. “These programs are specifically designed to assist those looking to prepare for a new career or update skills in their existing job,” said Waverly Coleman, assistant dean for the College’s Division of Business and Technology and the executive director of Corporate Solutions.
Earlier in the week, Corporate Solutions also hosted a Regional Workforce Strategy meeting that included Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Workforce Investment Board executives and Collegiate Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development member institutions. Collegiate Consortium members include Drexel University and Community College of Philadelphia, Delaware County Community College, Montgomery County Community College, Bucks County Community College and Camden County College in New Jersey.
Many community college presidents and leaders attended the strategy meeting, which focused on consortium members’ plans for green economy job training. One goal of the meeting was to inform the participants of planning efforts already underway and to coordinate program offerings to prevent duplication of services.