Inviting the future through collaborative partnerships with industry, education, and government

Fulton County Community College Clean RoomDr. Dustin Swanger, President of Fulton-Montgomery Community College (FMCC), has a vision for this region of upstate New York. It’s a vision of inclusive, economically vibrant communities working together to keep expanding opportunities for quality education, high-tech employment, and outstanding culture.

Making this vision a reality is up to all, but Swanger believes that the College, business leaders, and economic development officials must be vigorous and proactive leaders.

Swanger notes a trend across the U.S. to view economic development as part of a more encompassing effort – community development. “Community development works to enhance the economic, social, and cultural aspects that identify a region and give it a unique character,” he wrote in a recent paper, “Community Colleges: Partners in Community Development.” …. It is all of those aspects that make a community a place where people want to live and work.”

Community colleges are a relatively new type of educational institution (the first was founded in 1901), and are rapidly evolving to take a central, and often a leading role in economic and community development, noted Swanger. He believes FMCC must do all can to foster this region’s development.

Dr. Dustin Swanger, Fulton County Community College“Community colleges are doing everything from training assessments to consulting, business incubation, small business development, research, improving K-12 education, and more,” he explained.

Along with other business, government, and regional economic development entities, FMCC is actively working towards these goals. The College has already developed, or is in the process of building innovative partnerships that reach far beyond the region but bring the riches back home.

“We have to give giving young people opportunities and reasons to stay here,” he noted.

FMMC already offers 44 degree and certificate programs ranging from Business, to General Studies, to Fine Art, to Engineering and Technology. But its reach goes far beyond the modern 195-acre physical campus on the outskirts of Johnstown:

  • Certificate and Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree programs prepare graduates for employment, while Associate of Arts (A.A) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degree programs are designed to ready students for transfer to four-year programs.
  • Outreach to advanced manufacturing and semiconductor companies such as Global Foundries has led to the creation of industry-specific training programs and supporting facilities, such as FMCC’s advanced Center for Engineering and Technology, which features an advanced manufacturing laboratory and metrology-focused cleantech room.
  • Research partnerships with other higher education institutions, such as SUNY IT in Plattsburgh, to encourage business-college partnerships that also provide pathways for young people to pursue new career paths.
  • Outreach through public schools and BOCES to invite youngsters to the college to meet with local business leaders and learn about career paths.
  • Collaborative Career Learning (COCAL ), which offers specialized career training through hands-on work for local businesses combined with on-campus instruction.Fulton County Community College Energy Program
  • The Center for Energy Efficiency and Building Science, created in collaboration with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), to provide building science technology training to construction industry professionals leading to certification through the Building Performance Institute (BPI).

“As the U.S. accelerates into an economy of advanced technology and innovation, 70% of the jobs created will need at least some post-secondary education,” notes Swanger. “Manufacturing in the U.S. is, and will continue to be high-precision production in a cleanroom environment requiring a skilled workforce.”