Northeast Iowa Community College is responding to a number of district workforce needs.

At Monday's meeting of the NICC Board of Trustees, the Board heard updates and reports on the successes that many new training initiatives and grant-funded projects have yielded for the college and the communities it serves.

Liang Chee Wee, NICC president, shared a report with the trustees after attending the computerized numerical control (CNC) certification graduation ceremony Feb. 15. Twenty-one graduates completed NICC's intense four-month certificate training in CNC to qualify for job openings in the Dubuque and Peosta areas, where employers need additional skilled machinists to grow and expand their businesses.

"Students express dramatic transformation, personal and professional, after graduating from these training programs, and their success is greatly improving their employment prospects," said Wee.

"Between the CNC certification program and a similar program in welding this past year, the college has graduated approximately 100 students who now qualify for better paying, rewarding local employment," he said.

Wendy Mihm-Herold, NICC vice president of business and community solutions, reported that the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) that works with the college, received U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) funding in 2012, has, in less than six months, provided consulting assistance to nearly 70 new business owners interested in starting a new business or expanding their current operations. The RBEG provides funding to support educational, business and consulting outreach work for small businesses in rural areas of the college's district.

Tax asking

The Trustees opened a public hearing on the college's proposed fiscal year 2014 certified budget and subsequently approved the budget for the next year.

This certified budget sets the maximum spending limit for next year at $59.4 million, compared to the current year's limit of $62.5 million. Also for next year, property taxpayers in the NICC district will see a reduction from 99 cent per thousand dollars of assessed evaluation for fiscal year 2013 to 93 cents for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, 2013.

Wilder renovations

In January, NICC completed a comprehensive remodeling and repurposing of its newest facility at the Calmar campus, the Wilder Business Center.

This facility houses the NICC Business and Community Solutions staff, as well as the NICC Foundation, Marketing, Distance Learning, computer information services and central printing offices. The new center will enhance current business and industry training programs coordinated through NICC, offer new conference meeting and auditorium spaces for the community, videoconferencing capabilities and other amenities.

On March 14, the Wilder Business Center will host an Iowa-Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (I-STEM) event for businesses and educators from 4 - 7:30 p.m. The Wilder Business Center grand opening event is Thursday, April 25, from 4 - 6:30 p.m., with a ribbon cutting at 5:15 p.m.

Following a public hearing, the Trustees approved plans to upgrade the waste management lift station and at the Calmar campus. The plans are awaiting final approval by the Department of Natural Resources.

Robotic milking

The Board also approved the final plans for a new addition on Iowa's Dairy Center to accommodate new robotic milking equipment.

The robotic milking systems and the new addition will introduce Dairy Science students in particular to the latest technological equipment in the dairy industry.

Simulation labs

The Trustees approved designating the use of Accelerated Career Education (ACE) funding for new health simulation labs at the Calmar and Peosta campuses for students in healthcare programs.

Dr. Kathy Nacos-Burds, NICC vice president of academic affairs, discussed the instructional qualities that the new advanced health labs and manikins will provide for students in both credit and non-credit programs at NICC. The new lab areas on campus will offer Nursing, Respiratory Care and Paramedic students' opportunities to train on the simulators using programmable scenarios that mirror real-life health and emergency care situations.

Dr. Nacos-Burds shared with the Board that two NICC faculty members have been chosen for recognition in teaching excellence by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD). Neil Grube, an instructor at the Calmar campus in the John Deere TECH program, and Jane Rusk, an accounting instructor at the Peosta campus, will be honored at a national conference in Austin, Tex., in May.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is Monday, March 18, 2013 at 3 p.m. at the Calmar campus boardroom.