March 13, 2013

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Davis and Weber Counties

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Davis and Weber Counties

March 13, 2013

BOUWHUIS: In Davis County, about 37 percent of the population has a certificate or a degree. And to get to that 66 percent is a big jump. It’s going to take a lot of effort and a lot of funding to do that.

Within technical education, we’re always the inverse of the economy, so when the economy was bad four years ago, our enrollments increased 52 percent over a four-year period. And now our enrollments have dropped off significantly because people are finding jobs in the marketplace.

The good news for Davis/Weber County is the growth happened to be in manufacturing, and not many places in the country can say that manufacturing is growing at the rate it is in Utah. That means we’re making products here, and when you make products, it goes all through the economy. It drives the money being moved around.

What we’ve had to do, as an institution, is try and meet the pipeline demands of those companies that need manufacturing-based training—our machining program, our welding program, our industrial maintenance. Those programs have been in such high demand.

We received 120,000 square feet at Freeport Center West called D5. That’s being renovated, and we’ll have at least 32,000 square feet to create an environment where employers around the Freeport Center can get very specific training for their existing employees, plus a finishing school for our existing students. Working together, we’ve got to drive Weber County’s economy by getting that pipeline full of trained people.

CALDWELL: This symbiotic relationship with our tech schools and Weber State University is critical, and it makes us far more competitive in Northern Utah. You’ve got Weber State and two technical schools that can all work together. We can be that rising tide that lifts all the ships.

Last year, Homedepot.com looked at 76 potential sites for a 700-job call center, the only major campus they have outside of Atlanta. And the flexibility of Collette and Weber State working together to say, “We will do specialized curriculum, we’ll do specialized training; we’ll get these 700 people the specialized training you’re looking for,” wasn’t something that any other community could provide. And they chose Ogden to relocate to in huge part, they’ve told us, because of the ability to get their organization the training they needed.

LAWRENCE: The next great bubble that’s going to burst is the student loan bubble. That’s because there’s a lot of schools—private and public, for-profit, not-for-profit—that are charging an awful lot of money for degrees that don’t necessarily result in jobs that enable them to pay their loans back. I was a big fan of applied technology centers and colleges before I came to Weber State, because I know that they’re training students to do something that industry wants and needs.

At the university level we’re starting to see more of that. We’re also starting to see a lot more classes online. At Weber State, about 25 percent of our courses are now available over the internet, which is a large percentage.

Another thing I’m excited about is our new entrepreneurship minor that’s going to come online in the fall. It’s available to any student at Weber State University, so it doesn’t matter what your major is—computer science, liberal arts, business, whatever. A lot of the greatest entrepreneurs and business owners don’t come from the business school. In fact, most of them don’t.

Students will take eight classes, and each of the classes is applied: they’re working with customers. They’re working with businesses, with banks. And we’re going to give them $25,000 in cash to start a business while they’re in school. So there’s going to be six businesses a year and a half from now that are going to be started by students who have proven their product, they have customer interest, in some cases they may have revenue, they’ve got the legal work done. They’re actually going to start a company while they’re in school, and they’re going to run it with real money. It’s theirs, and we’re not going to take an equity stake and they don’t have to pay it back.

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