Clinton Community College
Every community has something that is the backbone of it. For some it’s a church, a football team or a person. For New York State the SUNY system is its backbone.
At a forum on Thursday, Sept. 26 at Clinton Community College a discussion was held about the opportunities that can be found in SUNY in the North Country. This particular event was part of a series of four discussions that will take place across the state. The discussion held at Clinton Community College was the first in the series.
The discussion was following the publication of a new book co-authored by Dr. Jason Lane, PhD titled “Universities and Colleges as Economic Drivers.” Lane is the deputy director for research at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. Before the forum began Lane gave a PowerPoint presentation explaining some of the overviews from various sections of the book.
As Lane began to make his PowerPoint presentation he noted the absence of SUNY chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher who was unable to attend. He explained that she believes that it is through the SUNY system that the state of New York will continue to thrive. She came to this conclusion after she took tours of all 64 SUNY campuses.
Lane said New York has a large educational system for higher education that annually pumps $1.2 billion dollars into the state’s economy. He called these colleges “anchor institutions” because they are able to operate whether a community is booming economically or not.
In addition, colleges pay millions in taxes annually and employ thousands. In just the North Country region, area colleges employ 6,700 people with 22,300 students attending these institutions. Another 61,000 alumni reside in the North Country region, Lane said. In total, these institutions add $357 million dollars to the economy in the North Country in just one year, Lane explained.
“The future of our economy is tied to higher education,” Lane said.
Since most schools throughout the state and specifically in Clinton County are in small towns Lane believes that they not also educate those seeking an education but also help existing businesses. Both students and faculty spend their money locally at various businesses keeping those businesses alive, he said.
Ken Adams, President and CEO of Empire State Development, followed Lane’s presentation and talked to the crowd about the workforce that New York has to offer. In his time at the podium he explained that a workforce is only as good as its educational system produces.
“The real advantage to the workforce is based on the education,” Adams said.
Adams talked about a new program coming out of Albany for SUNY called Start-Up New York. The basis for the program is to allow both up and coming businesses or companies to partner with a SUNY school of their choice. The company would reside on or near the campus with the incentive of not having to pay state taxes for 10 years while at the same time hiring some students on campus to work there. The employees who the companies hired would also receive a tax exclusion on their income.
After Adams left the stage a group of six panelists took to the stage to discuss the findings in Lane’s book. The panelists included Garry Douglas, President of the North Country-Plattsburgh Chamber of Commerce; Paul Grasso, President and CEO of The Development Corporation; Lee Ann Pray, Director of Human Resources, at Swarovski Lighting; John Ettling, President of SUNY Plattsburg; John E. Jablonski, President of Clinton Community College and Lane. The moderator for the discussion was Journalist Thom Hallock of Mountain Lake PBS.
The group spoke about how colleges of the North Country have an impact by attracting students from all over the world and from down state. And with the schools being located in a region so close to the border the schools have a role in what is making Clinton County so attractive to its Canadian neighbor.
This is because there are nearly 200 Canadian businesses located in Clinton County, hiring graduates of the region’s colleges, the panel pointed out. Representatives of two companies on the panel noted that they provide internship programs, further connecting them with local schools.
Panelists called this connection between business and education a “collective impact.”