Improved communications with the community and a renewed effort to "sell" the many opportunities afforded by its Cherokee facility are the vital cogs in the wheels of Western Iowa Tech Community College and Conference Center as it rolls into the future.
In town for the Cherokee WITCC's annual Chamber of Commerce Coffee, WITCC President Dr. Robert Dunker of Sioux City lauded the past work and vast potential of the Cherokee Campus, while introducing new Campus Coordinator Darla Struck. Struck replaces Mary Raveling, who has retired.
"The opportunity is here and now to take this campus to a totally different level," said Dunker in an interview following the weekly Chamber Coffee. "We want to establish more and improved communication links throughout the community and develop a real ear for the Cherokee community.
"We are focusing on marketing our products (various course offerings) and to learn just what it is this community is willing to purchase. It's always a two-way street - we provide the products and the community will tell us what it is that interests them and what they want to pursue."
In all actuality, Dunker said the WITCC Campus and Conference Center in Cherokee was designed and built years ago as an economic development opportunity.
"With the people we now have on staff, and the facilities we have here, I think Cherokee is on the cusp of exploding this."
Dunker, who was accompanied to Cherokee last Friday by Diane Hargens of Denison, WITCC Director of Branch Campuses who oversees the Cherokee Campus and reports to Dunker, said one of the main new focuses of WITCC is to reach out to cultivate improved communication and relationships with the business community. Course work can be tailored to suit a business's needs such as college credit courses, degree offerings, safety training/OSHA compliance, hands-on mechanical instruction, professional development, employee training, and upgrading various skills.
A renewed emphasis on various community course offerings mirroring the former "Adult Education" programs once so popular and sought after in Cherokee is also on the horizon, according to Struck.
"WITCC is the perfect platform to achieve this at the local level," explained Dunker. "We need to turn businesses on to the opportunities here and turn people on to Cherokee. This is a wonderful community with wonderful, caring people. We know that. It's why we're here. We just need to be all we can be in educating the people on all that we can offer and exciting new products that no one has even thought of yet.
"With Darla being the new 'face' of WITCC in this community, I'm confident we are only scratching the surface. She has very much to offer and It's her job to facilitate this focus. I'm confident she will take this campus to a totally different level."
Dunker also expounded on the value of the spacious WITCC Conference Center, a state-of-the-art facility that includes an 8,000 square foot banquet hall with 20-foot ceilings; banquet seating for 500; accomodations for meetings, banquets and major exhibits and displays; capability to divide into three large rooms for meetings or banquets; full kitchen; round and rectangular tables and padded chairs; complete audiovisual system containing large video projection screen, and a portable stage.
Also, large vehicle entrance; internet access; lecture and audiovisual theater with stadium seating for 176; Iowa Communications Network classrooms (ICN); large sky-lit atrium for reception/registration; event planning consultation; full catering services; handicap accessible; dedicated parking; 20-station computer room; piano and organ available.
"Just the social impact of the Conference Center is awe-inspiring," added Dunker. "The opportunities are great. Then, add all the other facilities the Center has to offer and it truly becomes a total community center in every sense of the word. We just need to make people learn to utilize it to the fullest."