It is about time all of us start putting our money where our mouths are. Many Sheridan residents discuss the state of our economy, how the number of jobs in the area seem to be waning and that we wish — oh how we wish — something could be done about it.
Turns out, something can.
Sheridan College is beginning to explore the option of increasing the amount of local tax revenue it collects. The question voters will be asked is whether they will support a general obligation bond. The funds collected would be used to repay construction loans on an expansion of the school’s tech center. The additional property tax would expire when the total amount of the loan is collected.
Beyond the tax revenue, let’s talk about what the tech center means to our economy.
Sheridan College representatives have said that the school accepts just one in four of the applicants that apply to join the technical education programs — machine tool technology, diesel mechanics and welding. The same representatives have also said that local companies say they could hire every graduate of those programs for several years to come.
Obviously, this is a local need that is not being filled. Why not fill it?
These are jobs — well-paying jobs — that could keep more youth in the area. It won’t keep them all here, but it will encourage more to stay put after they graduate. The programs also won’t directly benefit everyone who is considering a secondary education. But, one business sector’s success often helps bolster others.
According to Sheridan College, this sort of support has not been requested in 36 years. During that same timeframe, the college has built more than 300,000 square feet of new and renovated spaces at an approximate cost of $48 million. College representatives said about two-thirds of those improvements were funded by private donors.
The money isn’t being wasted. It is helping to set the college up as one of the premiere community colleges in the region — which is vital in a state with just one four-year secondary school.
More students means more money in our local economy, more people being trained for careers and the ability to fill existing needs for existing companies in Sheridan as well as new companies or those considering relocation.
As the college begins discussion on this topic and gauges local support, let’s make it clear we’re here for them, for our current and future students and for the economic development of our community.