Economic development is the practice of inspiring private investment, retaining, and creating jobs. Economic development specialists and urban planners focus on economic development, work towards promoting entrepreneurship and small business development, implementing tax incentives for development projects, and expanding employment opportunities for local residents. In Mammoth Lakes, CA the current economic development strategy is to repair gaps in the collection of the transient occupancy tax, a tax levied on tourists who stay in the community for less than 31 days. But what other ways can Mammoth Lakes and other small tourism-based communities promote economic development? What role can local educational facilities, such as Cerro Coso Community College, play in stimulating contemporary economic development initiatives in the Eastern Sierra region of California?
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) gives grants to colleges and universities to provide public and private sectors with economic development support. Washington State University in Pullman Washington; Madison College in Madison, Wisconsin; and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury, North Carolina have all been beneficiaries of the EDA’s collaboration with colleges for economic development.
- Developing new ideas for commercialized products and services through licensing and start-ups;
- Building businesses and sustainable jobs using college resources such as technology, ideas, and talent;
- Collaborating to bolster economic growth in the region through internet marketing;
- Providing technical assistance such as marketing, business card design, and branding advice to entrepreneurs, environmental non-profits, and architect companies;
- And implementing training both on-campus and on-site in the community where individuals will have access to cutting edge technology and methods, high quality instruction from certified professionals with field experience, and job and internship opportunities with local business partners.
Cerro Coso Community College may be facing a budget shortfall of between $525,000 and $1.75 million in the 2013-2014 academic year. The fall 2012 schedule already has 29 fewer class sections than fall 2011. Depending on the size of the deficit, yet to be determined, the college may need to make reductions that equate to the elimination of another 100 class sections (reducing full-time equivalent students by 271), as well as further staff reductions and cuts to programs and services.
Cerro Coso Community College could potentially alleviate some of this fiscal pressure by applying for EDA grants that promote economic development. The Town of Mammoth Lakes has recently convened an Economic Stimulus Council which could help the college secure funding for economic initiatives including technical assistance for small businesses, entrepreneur mentorships for students, business plan competitions, job fairs, and technical training and certificate programs for community members in forestry management, non-profit management, and physical therapy.
What other ways can educational institutions promote economic development for community success?
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