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If you go
What: College Completion Counts Conference
Where: Public Safety Academy: Ivy Tech South Campus, 7602 Patriot Crossing
When: 8:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $10 registration fee to cover refreshments and materials
•Those interested in attending can register online at www.completioncounts.eventbrite.com

Conference to push value of college education

Local leaders hope an upcoming conference will encourage area residents to consider attending college or returning to complete a degree.

The College Completion Counts Conference will be Saturday at the Public Safety Academy: Ivy Tech South campus. Organizers gathered Tuesday morning to promote the event, including a proclamation from Mayor Tom Henry.

The event is a collaborative effort by leaders from workforce development, economic development and educational institutions to attract students back to college by removing barriers students may have faced in the past.

Officials said a more educated workforce will greatly benefit the local and regional economy.

“Education is critical to the overall success of our region’s economy,” Henry said. “We want to be a leader in providing education opportunities that lead to job creation and economic development.”

A number of higher-education institutions along with economic development organizations are involved in planning Saturday’s event.

Participants will learn about available resources to help with college completion, be able to ask questions of returning students who successfully completed a degree and have the opportunity to meet representatives from area colleges and universities.

“Generating educated and skilled workers is an important issue currently facing the economy of our region, state and country,” said Leonard Helfrich, director of the Talent Initiative, a program of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. “It is our job to work collaboratively to help remove barriers to college degree attainment. This conference will provide resources and information for individuals to return to college and gain a competitive advantage.”

Through the efforts of the Talent Initiative and Vision2020, the region has adopted a goal of 60 percent of residents having a degree or certificate. Helfrich said it isn’t enough to encourage high school graduates to earn a degree or certificate; those who have dropped out of college are another resource to be tapped for the goal, he said.

The conference’s topics are focused mostly on this population, addressing some of their challenges including financial aid and planning, job searching, back-to-school preparation and time management.

“The regional economy’s success is reliant upon our educated workforce,” said Jerrilee K. Mosier, chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College, another partner in the planning of the event. “College completion is the best pathway to success for our citizens and their families, and generating educated and skilled workers is an important issue currently facing our region, state and country.”

sarah.janssen@jg.net

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