Indian Hills Community College became the newest recipient of the Outstanding Service Award on March 28 at the Appanoose Economic Development Corporation annual banquet.
IHCC President Jim Lindenmayer said for about three years the college leadership has been striving to enhance economic development with efforts that include putting into place a staff of seven that works full time on regional economic development. College leaders realized the economic condition of the region had declined considerably over the past 20 years, he said, and believed IHCC could be key in making economic efforts regional rather than community by community.
“We were pleased to be recognized, not so much for the pat on the back, but we think it helps publicize our services and what we do,” Lindenmayer said.
AEDC Executive Director Tod Faris said the college’s establishment of a branch called the Rural Entrepreneurship and Leadership Institute about two years ago led to better communication between IHCC and economic developers in the 10-county region the college serves.
Faris said there were multiple reasons for honoring IHCC with the award. For one, the college works with employers to find out what type of training they want their employees to have.
“Instead of providing the educational facility and saying, ‘We’re going to teach you,’ instead they go out and ask, ‘What do you need? How can we help you grow your business?’” Faris said. “To me it’s a real effort to reach out to the whole region.”
For another, IHCC has partnered with area high schools to allow students to get a start on college courses such as calculus. A more recent program allows high schoolers to start nursing coursework early so they can enter the workforce younger.
A third factor was that IHCC recently applied for and received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to fund a two-year rural business development adviser specifically for Appanoose, Wayne and Van Buren counties who spends a day each week in each county.