Last Friday, I had the distinct honor of delivering the commencement address at Mitchell Community College, a two-year community college based in downtown Statesville (Iredell County). Mitchell has been making a difference in our region for 150 years preparing students for careers ranging from agribusiness and digital media to engineering and construction.
I told these 300+ new graduates what an important role community and technical colleges play in the development of our regional workforce. In fact, the first question a prospect company asks is “do you have the talent we need?”
Every industrial company that relocates or expands in our region has some engagement with business services offered by our community colleges. In fact, their role is so significant to our economic development efforts, that in 2010 the Partnership presented all of our area community colleges, including Mitchell, our highest award, The Jerry, for having an ongoing significant impact on our region.
While applauding them for their decision to get a degree and join the Charlotte USA workforce, I also encouraged them to add value to the communities where they live by volunteering. This could mean becoming active in a professional organization, a place of worship or a non-profit group in need. This type of activity outside of the workplace helps build character as well as all kinds of skills including interpersonal, leadership and problem solving.
My parting words to them: Be a lifelong learner and never stop bettering yourself. That’s good advice for all of us.
Ronnie L. Bryant, CEcD, FM, HLM
President & CEO
Charlotte Regional Partnership
550 S. Caldwell St., Suite 760
Charlotte, NC 28202