From the publisher: Columbus State bond issue deserves county’s support
Updated: Feb 6
– Columbus Business First | Friday, Jan 31, 2020
On March 17, Franklin County voters will be asked to decide Issue 21, a $300 million bond measure to fund the modernization of facilities at Columbus State Community College.
The projects will include classroom and lab renovation, technology adoption and the expansion of student support spaces in buildings that were built, on average, nearly 50 years ago.
In my role at Columbus Business First, I have the opportunity to meet with CEOs and directors of leading companies in a range of industries.
I also get the chance to talk with our region’s civic leaders and economic development professionals about the challenges and opportunities facing Central Ohio.
Among the top concerns for our region’s leaders is the future of our workforce and a sustainable pipeline of skilled workers to fill today’s jobs and the jobs of tomorrow.
Many employers are addressing the need to train and retrain the workforce to address the changing needs of the workplace. And many of them have turned to Columbus State as a valued partner in creating programs to fill the talent pipeline.
Right now, Columbus State works with Honda, Worthington Industries, Abbott, PK Controls, Nationwide, Amazon, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Huntington, State Auto, Accenture and Chase, to name a few.
David Harrison, Columbus State’s president for the past decade, said the school wishes to boost these partnerships and create new ones.
“Employers will tell you that the ability to find the talent they need is the determining (factor) with regard to their ability to grow,” Harrison told Business First. “That’s creating really creative conversations around how to do things differently.”
Critics of the bond issue will argue that the citizens of Franklin County shouldn’t be shouldered with the responsibility of funding a community college. I get it. No one likes paying more taxes.
It’s important to note that a full-time Columbus State student pays about $4,500 in tuition a year. Affordability is a key component to the school’s success in getting students the credentials they need to secure that next paying job.
Tuition and about $5 million in annual funding from the state isn’t enough to fund the school’s operating budget and invest in much-needed improvements. Over time, Columbus State has spent down on reserves just to keep up with the costs of maintaining its aging campus.
To continue its mission, the school needs the necessary funds to modernize its campus, prepare its students for the future and feed the growing workforce in Central Ohio.