One of the most important decisions voters will make on Tuesday is whether or not to renew Kirkwood Community College’s 25-cent per $1,000 taxable valuation bond issue. If voters approve the measure, a few things will happen. What won’t happen is a tax increase. Instead, the current bond schedule will simply be extended by five years. Sixty million dollars will be generated to foster the education, growth and success of Kirkwood students. Your tax rate will not change as the result of an approval. But the changes it will create for the college and our community are very significant.
This bond vote is about an investment in an essential Corridor resource. To understand just how critical Kirkwood is, I would ask you to consider a few facts.
Annually, Kirkwood has nearly 20,000 students from all over the world. However, the majority of students come from the Corridor. They’re all at the college for the same reason: to create a brighter future for themselves. As a society, we should celebrate and support any individual who is striving to achieve their academic and career goals. In doing so, we don’t just support the student, we’re supporting the community.
A great majority of Kirkwood graduates live in the Corridor and are employed by many of the area companies that the college partners with on a yearly basis. These partnerships benefit the community in countless ways. By working together to develop relevant curriculum, students receive the critical skills and training that our employers are looking for in an employee. The area workforce is made stronger — making businesses more successful. It can’t be stressed enough how substantial an impact this makes.
A recent study found that Kirkwood’s statewide economic impact is nearly $1 billion annually. A large part of that number is the $832.8 million of added income inside the college’s seven-county service area alone. The residual economic implications of that are incredible. This is happening in our backyard. For that reason, it’s important to support Kirkwood and its students to make sure they reach their full potential.
In order to be successful, faculty and staff need the right tools to maximize student learning. Over the college’s 50-year history, the world has changed dramatically — and with it so has the modern student. They learn in much different ways than they did years ago. Studies have shown that a student’s success is linked to their overall college experience. The right learning experience needs the right environment, and that’s where this vote comes into play.
With a bond renewal, Kirkwood will be able to fund much-needed renovation and new construction on various projects. Upgrading an outdated facility for the Agricultural Sciences program will be essential in maintaining its number-one-in-the-nation status. In addition, the college’s Animal Health Technology building requires new space and renovations as well.
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Kirkwood also will turn existing space into a modern learning lab for the Automotive Technology program.
At the college’s second largest campus in Iowa City, more than 20,000 square feet will be added to improve workforce development programs in the area. Finally, student services and amenities will be improved across main campus — most importantly with a new student center dedicated to accessibility, service, convenience, inclusiveness and collaboration.
Since Kirkwood and its graduates are so intertwined with the economic health of the Corridor, it just makes sense to give them the tools they need to continue to make such a huge impact.
The best part about approving this measure is that even though it will not raise our taxes, it will raise the future prospects of Kirkwood, its students and the Corridor as a whole.
On Tuesday, support Kirkwood and our community by making the right choice.
• Jeffrey Cannon is president and CEO of Diamond V.