In alignment with the Northeastern Colorado Association of Local Government's (NECALG) 2019 Northeast Enterprise Zone Contribution Project Goals, this project “encourages job creation and supports the education and training of current and new workforce” (Goal 1). The Welding Technology program at Northeastern was recently restructured to allow flexibility for those in the current workforce to gain additional skills to benefit their industry (e.g. robotic welding). This is accomplished through flexible entrance and exit points and is based upon mastery of skills, not seat time, rather than adhering to the traditional academic year calendar. The program will also be competency-based to enable participants to reduce requisite time for completion. Northeastern’s Wind Technology program is currently reviewing its curriculum to follow suit.
This project also supports to efforts to “encourage sustainability and development of current services and new services for zoned residents” (Goal 4). As costs of doing business skyrocket on the Front Range of Colorado, companies are looking for locations that offer lower costs of living and a skilled local workforce. Northeastern has been approached by private sector companies to offer specialized training for continuing education (professional development) opportunities for existing staff.
The applied technology programs at Northeastern experience sustained and high levels of demand from potential employers that consistently exceed current capacity to produce skilled workers. Increases in workforce-ready graduates from Northeastern will be possible with expansion and modernization of program learning facilities, which in turn will create economic opportunities for the broader Enterprise Zone by ensuring a fuller and sustained pipeline of skilled workers. New industries considering Logan County for their operations are increasingly dependent upon automation. Trained technicians with the skill set to install, manage and maintain automated machinery is central to attracting these employers. Today, employers actively recruit students from our graduates.
Finally, this project will “support programs and community development in Northeast Colorado in a manner that drives tourism and encourages economic growth to the region" (Goal 5). In a March 2017 report on the Economic Value of Northeastern Junior College (compiled by the market economics research firm Emsi), the estimated student impact on the service area economy, outside of tuition and fee expenditures, was approximately $1.5 million. At the enrollment level (at the time of the report in 2017), that equated to approximately $1,200 per student of additional income to the region. The proposed new facility is projected to serve an additional 100 students. In addition, additional faculty and staff will be added to serve those students. Northeastern currently accounts for approximately 4.5 percent of the total gross regional product (GRP)