The Economic Development Council monthly lunch focused on the importance of community colleges and how they help communities meet the growing needs for talent. The event was hosted at Austin Community College and featured a panel of speakers sharing their expertise on community colleges and career training.

The panel of speakers for the event were:

Dr. Richard Rhodes, Austin Community College Chancellor
Dr. Harrison Keller, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Chief Executive Officer
Ray Martinez, Texas Association of Community Colleges President & Chief Executive Officer

The discussion was moderated by Dr. Nan McRaven, who is on the ACC Board of Trustees.

The focus of the first part of the panel was on how community colleges are funded and how the legislature can help improve the funding model than hasn't been updated in more than 50 years.

Last year, The Texas Commission on Community College Finance, a group of lawmakers, business leaders and community college presidents produced a report that presents sweeping recommendations on how the state can update funding community colleges.

The discussion also focused on the importance of community colleges meeting the workforce needs of a growing community like Austin. Texas is estimated to add four million jobs by 2036, and most of those will be in middle-skilled professions. All the panelists agreed that community colleges will be key to meeting the growing needs for workforce.

Austin Chamber Austinite of the Year, Roy Spence, made a special appearance to talk about Make it Movement and the partnership with ACC. Roy Spence founded Make it Movement to help young people to find out what they are passionate about to help them pursue careers in those fields.

ACC has the Make it Center on its Highland Campus to inspire middle and high school students and adults to consider college on the path to a future career.

Finally, the event celebrated the retirement of Dr. Richard Rhodes after 12 years of service to the college and the Central Texas community. He is the longest-serving Chancellor in the college’s 50-year history.

Find out more about how Opportunity Austin and the Austin Chamber work to improve education outcomes across the region.

Related Categories: Education and Talent