Officials tour, tout likely site of Gateway campus in Warren
Officials hope the Courthouse Square campus will open for classes this fall.
By SEAN BARRON
WARREN — A main reason to set up an Eastern Gateway Community College campus in the city’s Courthouse Square is to make college entry, freshman and sophomore courses and programs more accessible to many people while stimulating economic growth and stability.
That was a main message delivered by several elected officials and college personnel during a press conference Sunday in the Atrium Building, 103 W. Market St., the potential site of EGCC’s expansion.
“The goal is to make sure every person in Ohio has access to the kind of educational opportunities to be successful,” Gov. Ted Strickland said after he and other political dignitaries and college personnel toured the three-story building. “This is an example of people recognizing the need that exists and going to work to make it happen.”
Strickland, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and EGCC President Laura Meeks are among those who have been pushing for a central campus in Warren. No opening date was announced Sunday, though it is hoped classes will be under way by fall 2010, Ryan noted. He also was unable to provide a cost estimate.
The college would likely occupy a portion of the Atrium Building’s first and third floors. Much of the top floor is now office space.
Instead of a main campus, EGCC, which began offering classes last fall, uses the facilities and, in some cases, the instructors at six sites: Choffin Career & Technical Center and The Valley Center, both in Youngstown; Mahoning County Career & Technical Center, Canfield; Trumbull Career & Technical Center, Champion; Columbiana County Career & Technical Center, Lisbon; and the Jefferson County Campus in Steubenville.
“The Warren campus won’t replace anything at all,” noted Ann M. Koon, EGCC’s director of public information, referring to some people’s concerns that a central location might diminish or end the college’s relationship with the career and technical centers.
More than 2,000 students are enrolled at Eastern Gateway, a 22 percent increase over last fall, she explained. That includes roughly 300 from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties who, for example, are taking developmental courses or are in a program for licensed practical nurses to become registered nurses, Koon said.
Also at the gathering was Roy Church, president of Lorain County Community College, who said that his county and the Mahoning Valley share many similar demographics and other characteristics. A two-year college in this area is vital, he added.
“[Northeast Ohio] is the only region of Ohio without a community college,” he said.
Church said that LCCC agreed to help after Eric Fingerhut, the state’s chancellor of higher education, asked it to act as a consultant for the project.
Another benefit to having a central campus is that EGCC will be able to expand its relationship with Youngstown State University, Meeks explained. The two have a technology partnership, which in part entails shared software, and is something Meeks said she anticipates will grow.
YSU also is receptive to many of EGCC’s ideas and is willing to share its successes, noted James McGrail III, Eastern Gateway’s vice president for business services. In addition, he said, the university is advising and consulting with EGCC regarding the purchase of technology products, for example, McGrail noted.
“YSU is extremely cooperative and helpful, a wonderful partner to have,” he added.
Several elected officials and members of EGCC held a press conference at and toured the Atrium Building in downtown Warren, which is being considered as a likely site for a central campus. Four potential funding sources:
A request for $1 million through Ohio’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program to improve the Atrium Building’s energy efficiency. A response is expected this month.
The college and city of Warren are in partnership for submitting a grant application to the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, which is a consortium of governments that, among other things, negotiates with energy suppliers. The city is expected to receive about $340,000 in grant money, a portion of which could be used to improve energy efficiency of the Atrium Building.
The city has agreed to serve as a partner to EGCC to apply for funds to support information technology wiring, equipment and computer labs in the building.
A partnership with Trumbull County commissioners could provide supplemental funding, in part because they have benefited from an energy aggregation rebate program. Source: EGCC