The Grand Rapids Community College Campus is busy once again with the Michigan House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Community Colleges meeting with college President Bill Pink and Vice President for Finance and Administration Lisa Freiburger to discuss the achievements of GRCC.
Among the committee is Chairperson and State Representative Chris Afendoulis, Minority Vice Chairman Henry Yanez and Representatives John Bizon, Tommy Brann and Yousef Rabhi.
“It’s great to be here at Grand Rapids Community College,” Afendoulis said. “I am an alum of GRCC of 1982. “I always tell students that I meet that going to a community college is a great start. It’s a place where you can get a great education at a great value.”
Pink also shared his excitement of hosting the subcommittee on campus.
“We’re excited to have had leaders here over the last 10 months to not only share with you, as I say to our GRCC family but to show off for you in terms of what we do here, so we’re honored to have you.”
Pink firstly mentioned the newest data that was analyzed by Emsi to calculate the economic impact that GRCC had on Kent and Ottawa (counties).
The data that came back was that GRCC has made a $413.5 million impact on Kent County and contributed to 1 percent of the county’s Gross Rating Point. This is the equivalent of 8,227 jobs in Kent County.
GRCC also contributed about $34.2 million to the Ottawa County economy. That equals about .3 percent of the county’s GRP and around 606 jobs.
“To use that’s information that we bolster and get out to our constituents and information that we get out to our community,” Pink said. “This helps them understand that they have a jewel in their community in GRCC and in the work that’s being done with and for our community.”
Pink also presented the subcommittee with enrollment data as well as informed them of the planned tuition increase of less than 1 percent.
Data showed that with the improving economy the enrollment rates are decreasing with an almost 1,500 headcount difference from fall 2014 to fall 2017.
“I’m happy to see that the teams we have at GRCC are keeping an eye out and preparing for the enrollment numbers, so we can be successful in planning our budget so we can be as successful as possible and continue with what we do here.”
Dual enrollment and other work with high schools around West Michigan like middle colleges have also played a role in the impact that GRCC has on the community.
There are currently 720 high school students dual-enrolling this year compared to last year’s 652 high school students. There is also GRCC faculty participating in concurrent enrollment in 10 high schools across West Michigan.
GRCC also offers an early/middle college program to five school districts including Cedar Springs, Kent ISD, Ottawa Hills and Wyoming. Most recently, East Kentwood is set to join the program in the fall.
“Our middle college work is important to us because it allows for the student to take a 13th year and finish an Associate’s degree along with a high school diploma with zero debt,” Pink said. “Wyoming has been our longest running middle college and their fourth cohort will be graduating this April.”
GRCC has also experienced a large growth in workforce apprenticeships. GRCC offers 830 total apprenticeships to students around West Michigan. The apprenticeships range from manufacturing (424) to medical assisting (13).
“I’d also like to mention that we are the first institution in our cohort to have an accredited medical assistant apprenticeship,” Pink said. “And those medical assistants are going out through that apprenticeship and they’re getting good jobs to get them started into a healthcare career.”
Lastly, Pink introduced the new training projects that GRCC is getting involved in and mentioned upcoming projects that will launch in the coming months.
Early this year, GRCC received a $1 million grant from the K.W. Kellogg Foundation to fund the Foundation to the Future program.
“In this instance, we are trying to get into those harder to reach neighborhoods in Grand Rapids,” Pink said. “Some of those neighborhoods that don’t have a high unemployment rate, so those (grant) dollars are meant to pull those communities into training and allow them to work.”
Projects to be launched soon include the Public Works Academy in March 2018 and the Heavy Equipment Operator project in April 2018.
In conclusion to the hearing, Rep. Bizon commented on the accomplishments that were presented.
“You (Pink) surely have taken up the mantle,” he said. “And I’m very much encouraged by hearing and seeing the accomplishments of this institution.”
Before the scheduled luncheon after the hearing, the representatives were taken on a tour
of the brewery. The tour was led by Jacob Brenner, professor of the brewing program.
After a light-hearted tour, the representatives joined Pink and other GRCC Trustee members and administration for lunch right outside of the brewery.