BUSINESS AND EDUCATION SUMMIT. Vermont State College Chancellor, Tim Donovan, made a surprise announcement during Lyndon State College’s Regional Business and Education Summit on April 18 when he unveiled a multi-phase program committed to creating a new workforce education system in the Northeast Kingdom intended to become a model for the rest of the state.
The day-long Summit gathered educators, and members of the business, agricultural, and manufacturing communities together to discuss ways local leaders can help Northeast Kingdom students thrive. President and CEO of Jay Peak, Bill Stenger, was the morning’s keynote speaker. Stenger is also Director of the Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative. The Initiative’s projects are expected to create thousands of jobs and pump $500 million in business investments in the region.
During his keynote address, Stenger offered his vision of a revitalized NEK educational system and economy. He spoke of his wish for students “as young as kindergarten age to be exposed to the idea of a career and to think of a job in terms of an opportunity – - something to be excited about every day.” Stenger believes it is role of the “collective community” to not only introduce these youngsters to potential careers but to also “help build a pathway for them to get there.”
Todd Bachelder, CEO of Menck Windows, addressed the gathering in the afternoon. The German-based manufacturer will be opening a new plant in Newport that intends to create close to 150 new jobs.
Chancellor Donovan closed the day by outlining the VSC’s plans. Phase One of the commitment involves completing a needs assessment of the jobs that are expected from these projects. The assessment will be conducted in coordination with Vermont’s Department of Labor and Commerce. Phase Two sees the VSC commit $25,000 – - half the cost – - toward the Innovation Engineering Management System. This system, developed by the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center, is a method of applying proven engineering processes to help a regional partnership zero in on the innovations and ideas most capable of supporting both students and employers.
LSC President Joe Bertolino shared his enthusiasm for VSC’s commitment. “I look forward to how this process will define the ways in which Lyndon and the VSC can work with our regional partners to help prepare every student and business in the NEK for short- and long-term success.”
Bob Whittaker, LSC’s dean of institutional advancement, added, “The VSC is committed to helping ensure that every NEK employer has the skilled talent they need, when they need it – - instilling and encouraging a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation across the region while creating a process that can be replicated statewide.”
The Summit, sponsored by AT&T, was held on “Building Career Pathways” day as a part of LSC’s Inauguration Week. More than 100 people attended. This week-long celebration of the college and its students culminated in the installation of Dr. Joe Bertolino as LSC’s 15th president on April 19.