Volume 9, Number 8
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Member Spotlight: Seattle Community Colleges
Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center
The Seattle region, like other parts of the country, is facing critical workforce shortages in high-demand fields. Additionally, increasing environmental awareness has led to calls for initiatives that emphasize sustainability for the Puget Sound area.
To help address these concerns, Jill Wakefield, president of South Seattle Community College, convened a coalition of business, labor, and government leaders who who worked together to develop a unique vision. The result of this collaboration was a significant expansion and renovation of South’s satellite campus, located in the heart of Washington’s largest manufacturing and trades center, south of downtown along the Duwamish River.
The coalition’s work and planning also included an examination of the economic development and workforce education needs of the industrial Duwamish corridor and its surrounding communities. These include a mix of relatively lower income residents, many of whom are minorities, along with a large base of industrial, warehousing, and distribution employers who provide family-wage jobs. These companies need new employees to replace an aging workforce in high-demand fields in manufacturing, construction, transportation, and logistics.
South’s initiative included innovative land swaps that more than doubled the size of this campus to thirteen acres and resulted in new buildings and programs, including creation of the Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center, a one-stop training, business and an entrepreneurial services center that opened in spring 2008.
New capital construction and educational and training programs prompted a renaming of the campus to reflect its updated focus. The newly titled Georgetown Campus acknowledges the lively and highly diverse industrial and residential neighborhood, an area that is home to Boeing Field and major facilities of the Port of Seattle as well as emerging creative businesses.
The Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center
The revitalized Georgetown Campus includes a 13,400 square-foot Gene J. Colin Education Building, which houses the Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center (PSIEC). State funding for the building was supplemented by a $1 million contribution from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as part of a larger grant of $5 million made in support of the Power and Promise fund-raising campaign for the Seattle Community Colleges.
The center is an innovative concept in an area of traditional businesses and manufacturing. In addition to housing services for area businesses and providing entrepreneurial training, multiple initiatives are currently under way. A logistics program is being launched to serve neighboring trade and transportation companies. A clean technology training program is being developed with emphasis on green-collar jobs including energy audit training to assist local companies in becoming more energy efficient. Another focus and area of community demand is entrepreneurial programs to assist the many start-ups associated with larger core companies and organizations.
The goal of PSIEC programs is to train the area’s low-income and culturally diverse residents for employment in high-demand jobs that would otherwise go unfilled. New training program development is also under way with business, labor, and industry partners, King County, Seattle City Light, and the City of Seattle. Overall, the Georgetown Campus supports more than 4,000 businesses with 70,000 employees located in the Duwamish corridor.
The Georgetown Campus at South Seattle Community College demonstrates a progressive model that includes industry, labor, government, and community partners working together with the college to achieve common goals: diverse, well-trained workers for careers in high-demand fields that provide family-wage jobs. The extensive partnerships formed in support of the Georgetown Campus provide a sustainable and effective framework for continued success in Washington’s workforce development system. The new infrastructure and initiatives will greatly contribute to long-term workforce development objectives for the community and the region.
Looking into the near future, the value of the Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center is being reinforced by its reception in its community, whose many representatives are working to present the city’s first Green Expo in October 2008. The Green Expo will highlight business and career opportunities in renewable energy, conservation, and developing green-collar jobs, as well as educational pathways to these careers. Key sponsors include Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, the City of Seattle, Manufacturing Industrial Council, National Wildlife Federation, and the Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center.
For additional information on the coalition membership, contact South Seattle Community College President Jill Wakefield at (206) 764-5311.