As a comprehensive community college, Lee College offers residents opportunities to pursue the first two years of a baccalaureate degree, workforce training leading to employment in one of the great companies in our region, and community development, ranging from Kids at College to STEM Camps and water aerobics to our Senior Adult Program. All of these roles played by Lee College are important to our students and the communities we serve. In this article I would like to focus on Lee College’s role as a partner in driving the area’s economy.
So, how does Lee College influence the economy? First, and foremost, we prepare students for pathways that lead them to productive and personally rewarding careers, whether it be as a process technician, a teacher or a medical doctor. With a higher education, our graduates not only have the means to support themselves and their family, but also are taxpaying citizens who positively contribute to their communities. Second, as an employer in Baytown, Lee College contributes to the local economy through its purchase of goods and services, along with the money spent by our employees in Baytown and surrounding communities where our employees live. Third, we partner with organizations who, by their charters, are designed to drive economic growth within the communities served by Lee College. Among these organizations, four stand out as longtime partners with Lee College: Baytown and West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation, Baytown Chamber of Commerce, West Chambers County Chamber of Commerce, and the Liberty-Dayton Chamber of Commerce.
The Baytown and West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation leads the charge in recruiting new businesses to our area as well as supporting existing companies with their expansion plans. Led by Mike Shields, Executive Director, and BJ Simon, Associate Executive Director, these two knowledgeable and experienced professionals work day in and day out to attract businesses and industries to set up shop in Baytown and West Chambers County. They have been doing this work for a long time, and they are good at it. Occasionally Lee College is asked to meet with prospective companies or provide information to those companies addressing the capacity of the college to provide a trained workforce.
The chambers of commerce, Baytown, headed up by Tracey Wheeler, President, and former Mayor Stephen DonCarlos, chair of the Board of Directors, West Chambers County Chamber of Commerce, led by Macie Schubert, executive director, and Jennifer Patterson, chair of the Board of Directors, and the Liberty-Dayton Chamber of Commerce, administered by President Mary Anne Campbell, and Board of Directors Chair Bryan Reynolds, are critical players in the economic development of their respective communities. As President of Lee College, I am privileged to serve on the board of the Baytown and West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation and the Baytown Chamber of Commerce. Having a seat at the table allows me the opportunity to stay connected with the happenings of business and industry in our community. It ensures that Lee College remains a vibrant player in the growth and expansion of the economic landscape of our region.
Being connected with these drivers of commerce is not only a role that the entire staff of Lee College embrace, but it is a role that we must fulfill if our communities are to grow and prosper. I would like to personally thank these important organizations for allowing me to represent Lee College in their discussions, deliberations and decision-making. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously. Please help me in thanking the above-mentioned individuals for their dedication and service to leading our communities into the next decade. Wow, 2020 is just around the corner!
Dr. Dennis Brown is President of Lee College.