Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) has earned a strong investment rating from Moody's Investors Service.

The College's recent actions to save money for the state of Iowa in its new job training certificate processes, as well as the College's initiatives to foster new job creation for Northeast Iowa communities, are producing results.

With the goal of sound fiscal stewardship and responsibility in mind, NICC refinanced its 260E New Jobs Training Program process to take advantage of lower interest rates for bond sales for the approaching new fiscal year beginning July 1. By refinancing at a lower interest rate, debt service on the bonds will be paid sooner, which will be a savings for the State of Iowa. The move by NICC will save the state $1,070,028 and result in a savings for taxpayers in the College's district.

"We didn't have to do this; we refinanced the bond sale rate for the reason of stewardship," said NICC President Dr. Liang Chee Wee.

"True, a lot of work went into this process - but it's good and important work."

Moody's Investors Service gave NICC an Aa2 investment rating, citing several strong and healthy financial factors regarding the College's 260E New Jobs Training bond sales. Moody's reported that NICC strengths include a large and stable service area that encompasses the City of Dubuque and portions of 13 counties, healthy financial operations with annual General Fund surpluses posted, tuition and/or fee rates in recent years that reflect the College's financial flexibility and additional oversight of financial operations by an audit committee, a group comprised of NICC Trustee members.



New jobs

At the NICC Board of Trustees meeting this week, Vice President of Business and Community Solutions Dr. Wendy Mihm-Herold updated the Trustees on the sale and delivery of $2,640,000 in 260E Industrial New Jobs training certificates for training projects in 10 businesses in Northeast Iowa. The training is estimated to help create more than 400 jobs in the district, which the Board approved.

The 10 businesses and the amounts in training certificates to be issued for each are: AVEKA Manufacturing, Inc., $160,000 for 24 jobs; Bodine Electric Company, $230,000 for 35 jobs; East Iowa Machine Co., Inc., $75,000 for 12 jobs; Featherlite, Inc., $190,000 for 60 jobs; Hodge Company and T.M., Inc., $190,000 for 46 jobs; Lime Springs Beef, LLC, $420,000 for 50 jobs; Medline Industries, Inc., $260,000 for 34 jobs; Mills Manufacturing Company, $175,000 for 15 jobs; Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc., $740,000 for 106 jobs; and Transco Railway Products Inc., $200,000 for 22 jobs.

Since 1985, NICC has issued new jobs training certificates worth more than $70 million that have directly led to the creation of more than 14,000 new jobs in Northeast Iowa.



Board elections

In the upcoming Sept. 10 school district elections, five Trustees are up for election.

The Trustees and the districts they represent include: John Rothlisberger, District 1; Kathy Gunderson, District 2; Gene Fuelling, District 4; David Schueller, District 6; and Ronda Kirkegaard, District 9.



Legislative support

In her Iowa Association of Community College Trustees report, Kirkegaard shared recent news from the Iowa Legislature on funding to the state's 15 community colleges.

"This time, we saw 14.5 percent in increased funding from the State of Iowa and new money for our adult literacy programs," Kirkegaard said.

State general aid to NICC jumped from $8.85 million in fiscal year 2013 to $9.57 million in the new fiscal year beginning July 1, and the Legislature funded adult literacy programs for the first time. Iowa allocated $193,376 to NICC Adult Literacy programs, which include English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes and the General Education Development (GED) high school diploma equivalency program. The College plans to apply the Adult Literacy funding toward the development of a four-day per week accelerated GED academy and transition assistance to GED graduates who elect to enter short-term certification programs, obtain employment or enroll in academic credit programs.

In grant award news, new NICC Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness Kristin Dietzel said that NICC and the Associate of Applied Science-Mechanical Engineering Technology program will receive $200,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education program. The funding will support the hiring of a new faculty member and necessary equipment and supplies for the program, which officially opens in fall 2013.



Persistence

Dr. Linda Peterson, NICC vice president of student services, outlined a new "Persistence and Completion" agenda for the district to focus on deep data analysis and response, classroom student engagement, and early interventions within the first six weeks of the term for students at risk of dropping out.

"We are looking at a modularized math pilot program and to provide additional tutoring for students who are struggling with their math courses," Peterson said.

Other initiatives include requiring program-specific orientation events for incoming students, requiring a College Success course and enhancing academic and student services program review processes.



Personnel

The Board approved the following full-time positions at the Calmar campus: Jennifer Bentley, animal husbandry manager/herdsperson; Mary Fitch, payroll coordinator; Liza Hicken, CNA coordinator; and Hallie O'Brien, Cresco Center administrative assistant.

New part-time Calmar campus personnel include Taylor Vrieze, child care associate.