On Tuesday night, the NIACC Board of Trustees unanimously voted to send a ballot question to voters this spring that will fund the development of Regional Career Centers, expand and enhance workforce training programs, and provide for infrastructure improvements on the NIACC campus.
As the only legal method of increasing funding to support infrastructure, the bond issue will be the first general obligation ask of Area 2 citizens in the 100-year history of NIACC.
The March 3rd ballot measure calls for a $15 million bond assessed across the entire 11 counties of the NIACC service area. The approximate cost to taxpayers is only .84 cents per month in property taxes for a $100,000 assessed home.
The bond issue, if passed, would financially support the expansion of career technical education, workforce training, enhance STEM-related career training, and expand and enhance healthcare training opportunities for north Iowans. In addition, the bond will support the upgrade of classroom technology and lab spaces and enhance the safety, security, and sustainability of the campus. It would also help renovate the North Iowa Community Auditorium, constructed in 1979, which hosts over 57,000 visitors per year.
Proceeds from the bond would also help fund the creation of Regional Career Centers outside of Cerro Gordo County. These centers will be designed to offer high-quality career technical education within 30 miles of every high school in NIACC’s district and address the workforce needs and skills gap challenging local business and industry.
According to NIACC Board President, Doug Krabbe, “This ballot measure is not only critical for our students today, but is also a vital investment in the future workforce of North Iowa.” Since 2000, NIACC has delivered over $37.5 million in training to business and industry in North Iowa. The proceeds from this bond will enable the college to increase its impact on the local economy.
A February 2017 Iowa Department of Education report found that for every $1.00 invested in Iowa Community Colleges, Iowa gains $3.50 in state revenue and social savings, $9.30 in added taxes and public sector savings, and a 10.4% annual average rate of return for taxpayers. From the taxpayer perspective this investment in NIACC results in increased earnings, increased state and local tax payments, savings related to improved health, reduced crime, and fewer welfare and unemployment claims.
As for the role that NIACC plays in the local economy: 35% of Area 2 high school graduates attend NIACC, over 80% of NIACC graduates stay in Iowa, and more than 12,000 alumni live and work within 30 miles of campus.