Gov. Perdue decries plan to merge colleges

Gov. Bev Perdue this week called upon the General Assembly to reject a proposal that would merge dozens of mostly-rural community college campuses, saying it amounts to an attack on rural North Carolina – and yet another blow to the state’s education system.

“Community colleges are important economic drivers for their individual communities,” Gov. Perdue said. “They are crucial partners in growing jobs, especially in rural areas. Local control is essential for addressing local needs, particularly in the areas of job creation, training and economic development. To merge rural community colleges is to move our education system backwards. The General Assembly should reject that proposal.”

A report by the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division recommends merging community college campuses in mostly rural areas of the state.

North Carolina’s community college system is absolutely crucial to our economic development engine – I cannot say this loudly enough,” the governor said. “I have talked to hundreds of companies that specifically choose North Carolina because they know the local community colleges will train the workers they need. These companies bring jobs to our people and, in turn, the community colleges provide companies with skilled, ready workers.”

Gov. Perdue pointed to several recent jobs announcements made possible because of partnerships with community colleges:

Beaufort Community College partnered to bring 239 jobs pledged with PAS Group and another 411 pledged with Fountain Powerboats.

Rockingham Community College helped secure 68 jobs pledged with Loparex, 55 pledged with White Ridge Plastics and 95 pledged with Albaad.

McDowell Technical Community College saw new jobs for the west by bringing 124 new positions pledged with Rock Tenn, 40 pledged with Jamesville Acoustics, 90 jobs pledged with Ethan Allen and 32 pledged with Wood Products.

• More western jobs were secured by Blue Ridge Community College, which helped bring 338 new jobs pledged with Continental Tevis.

Richmond Community College worked to bring 250 new jobs pledged with Plastek.

“Take away the community colleges and where will those businesses turn for workers? What other state – or country — will get our jobs instead?” Gov. Perdue asked.