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CDC partners with community college to increase opportunities

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OCT. 14, 2010 – Community colleges play a vital role in the training of North Carolina’s workforce; especially during a recession when education can give people a leg up in their job search. According to the NC Community College System, 30,000 new students enrolled in North Carolina’s community colleges during the 2009-2010 academic year, compared to 15,000 new students in 2008-2009.

For Brick Capital Community Development Corporation in Sanford, partnering with Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) has been a goal for many years. “We’d been wanting the community college to have a real presence on the hill, as they call it, at the W.B. Wicker [Business Campus] for years and years, before we did the renovation,” said Executive Director Kate Rumely. The W.B. Wicker Business Campus is the result of Brick Capital’s extensive renovations to the historic W.B. Wicker School building, one of the state’s largest Rosenwald Fund schools built to serve black students in the 1920s.

Today, the W.B. Wicker Business Campus houses a consulting firm, a childcare center, a pediatric speech and language services center, and a number of CCCC’s programs, including dental hygiene, adult education, continuing education and workforce development.

Stelfanie Williams (CCCC Vice President for Economic & Community Development), NC Senator Bob Atwater, Kate Rumely (Brick Capital CDC Executive Director), Wayne Robinson (CCCC Vice President of Administrative Services), and Bill Wilson (Brick Capital CDC Board Chair)The CCCC Lifelong Learning Center held an open house celebration on October 14. Cindy Ramsey, director of the continuing education program, said that the Wicker building has been a wonderful location for the program. “I think it’s very apropos that it’s an educational facility again,” said Ramsey, “The fact that we, once again, have students walking the hallways.”

The continuing education program offers occupational training courses, such as classes on vehicle emissions and nursing aid, as well as personal enrichment courses in areas such as the arts and a brand new course called Doing What You Love and Making Money Too. “You really can take your passion and make a living, which is something that a lot of people just throw to the side,” said Ramsey. “They say, ‘Ok, I can’t do both,’ and this course will show them that they can.”

The community has embraced the opportunities that are presented by the Lifelong Learning Center. Ramsey has regularly seen neighborhood residents walking to the Wicker Business Campus to take classes; particularly the computer skills courses that they offer in the building’s computer lab.

According to Rumely, the neighborhood feels more open, now that the college has moved into the Wicker building. “The whole neighborhood appears, to me, to be prouder of their neighborhood,” said Rumely. “Not that they weren’t before, but to have that school and to have education available where they can walk to school, it’s just really exciting.

Rumely believes that, while the college has always tried to reach out to the black community, the distance between the center of Sanford and the main campus was a deterrent for many people. “It meant they had to have a car. And that was tough for a lot of people,” said Rumely, “especially young people who didn’t have cars and couldn’t get there. This is really just so much better.”