Letter from the President: October 2017

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Letter from the President: October 2017

 

Mac Williams, President Alamance Chamber

I recently had the opportunity to see the new Advanced Applied Technology Center (AATC) on the campus of Alamance Community College.

Boy, is it impressive! And, that is a good thing as, when I was visiting, I had with me a prospective new industry client (and their consultants) in tow. The AATC facility made a great first impression and the faculty we met were equally impressive explaining their equipment and programs. Just as importantly, the staff was also very enthusiastic when discussing the impacts of the new facility on not only their teaching but also on their students’ learning.

In my economic development role, I have come to learn how important the “presentation” of public facilities is in selling a community as their state of repair reflects the priorities of a community. Moreover, beyond the “curb appeal” aspect of facilities is the “energy” one senses from the employees and students when they enjoy the physical space where they do their work. Those positive affects were on display at the AATC …. and my prospects noticed!

There will be a great deal more com-munity discussion over the next year or two around the issue of investing in education as both Alamance Community College and Alamance Burlington School System develop plans for significant bond issues.

I fully appreciate there being much more to the issue of “investment in education” than cool buildings and happy people; but, at the same time, what more important assets do we, as a community, have for creating the world-class education system we have envisioned than our students and teachers as well as the places where the teaching and learning occurs?

Another question to answer will be the one I had asked of me many years ago when, as the local economic developer in another community, I was traveling around with a prospect in tow. He asked me about the history of local bond issues. What were they for, did they pass or fail, etc. I said I would get that data then I asked him why he would want to know. He said it was a personal measure he used to get a sense of the communities he was considering. He said, “I’ll put it to you this way, why should I recommend that my company invest millions in a community that does not invest in itself?”

Good question.