ERIE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Erie Regional Chamber Announces Support of the Community College Effort

Erie Chamber of Commerce issued the following announcement on Nov. 12.

The Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership today announced the organization's support of the Community College effort during a press conference.

A community college with a state of the art workforce development curriculum, instructors, and is the missing link in the effort to transform our community.

Our businesses are demanding an effective workforce development system to enable them to grow in Erie. Nearly one-quarter of our workforce is 55 or older, and we simply do not have the trained talent to fill the void left by our aging workforce.

Erie is at a stark disadvantage compared to other communities where there is an effective community college engaged with local industry and employers. Strategic businesses choose to relocate or expand their operations to region with a highly trained and workforce. These communities almost always include a robust community college system. Erie is simply not in a position to grow and attract new businesses today.

“Without a community college, the region is missing a key tool to invest in the people of Erie.” Stated James Grunke, President and CEO of the Erie Regional Chamber.

In our community, labor force participation rates are falling at rates far exceeding state and national trends, which is a strong deterrent for businesses looking to locate their operations in Erie. From 2012 through 2018, the labor force participation rate in the county fell 3.3%, whereas the rate dropped by only 0.4% in Pennsylvania and 0.6% nationally.[1]

There are many opportunities to grow and develop local talent for our competitive industries like plastics manufacturing, electrical equipment manufacturing, metal fabrication and metal products, and research and development in engineering and life sciences. A community college with a strong presence and physical location in Erie County is critical to seizing these opportunities and to transforming our community.

The Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership stands with our community leaders who are prioritizing the need to bring a solution for a skills-based community college that offers training in trades and technical education. It is imperative that we take control of this situation now. We cannot wait any longer. Our business community needs a solution like the community college turn our trajectory of decline into a story of economic growth and vitality.

“Today, I am representing the business community to say that our time is now and to urge our legislators to stand with our community leaders. We need your support to help bring accessible education to our communities that deserve it. We need it now to invest in the businesses that call Erie home.” Grunke concluded.

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