Mary Tom Bass is director of public Information for Edgecombe Community College.

Mary Tom Bass is director of public Information for Edgecombe Community College.

Mary Tom Bass: State bond will benefit all residents

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On March 15, North Carolina voters will have the opportunity to strengthen their communities, counties and state.

The Connect NC Bond Act will connect North Carolina to the 21st Century through statewide investments in higher education, agriculture, state parks, National Guard and water and sewer infrastructure.

No new taxes are required now or in the future to finance the bonds, according to state leaders.

If voters approve the $2 billion infrastructure bond, Edgecombe Community College will receive $7.3 million for new construction and much-needed renovations.

The college’s top construction priority is a Center for Innovation in Workforce and Public Safety.

The proposed 24,000-square-foot facility would be constructed in Tarboro and would serve as the hub for workforce and public safety training. Specific programs include:

  • Customized training for business and industry
  • Emergency medical services
  • Fire and rescue
  • Law enforcement
  • Warehouse and logistics
  • Culinary arts

Special features include an industry work cell, small business center, incubator for small business and industry, a 911 training center, simulation room and physical fitness room.

Need: Public Safety

Each year the college serves about 14,000 people in curriculum and continuing education programs; 3,000 of these individuals are public safety personnel.

Edgecombe Community College provides public safety training for 17 fire departments, one rescue squad (four stations), seven local police departments, one local sheriff’s office and five state agencies.

With a state-of-the-art training facility, ECC will be able to offer more classes and serve more students in public safety.

Need: Industry

Edgecombe County has more than 20 major industries in the college’s service area that receive customized training. Edgecombe Community College offers more than 50 specialized courses to meet the demands of a knowledge-based workforce and a technology-driven workplace.

Training needs in industry vary each year depending on the companies’ needs. Though much training is conducted on-site, pre-screening and new-hire training could be done on campus with the benefit of an industry work cell set up to mimic industry processes.

Need: Small Business 
& Culinary Arts

The Small Business Center is part of a statewide network designed to support the development of new businesses and the growth of existing businesses.

Every year, on average, the SBC counsels 80-100 clients, provides assistance to 3-8 new businesses and offers 80-90 seminars with 590-1,000 attendees.

The Culinary Arts program is in its beginning stages as the college surveys interest from the community. The goal is to train people to cater and to become chefs.

It’s been 15 years since the last general obligation bond was authorized to upgrade our state’s infrastructure in 2000.

Since then, North Carolina has grown by more than two million people.