When economic times are bad, many who wouldn’t otherwise head back to school, seeking new job skills or new careers. “Enrollment is up,” North Idaho College Vice President John Martin told the Senate Education Committee this afternoon. “It’s not surprising - when the economy is bad, we’re kind of the growth industry.” He added, “We anticipate that these growth rates are going to continue in the near future.” That means there’s a crunch on classroom space, and NIC is looking at everything from bigger classes to new technology to get more students through classes. Martin noted that the Coeur d’Alene-based college, which has a workforce training center in Post Falls and outreach centers throughout the Panhandle, is marking its 75th anniversary this year. “They told ‘em in 1933, ‘This is not a good time to start a community college,’ but we endured,” he told senators. Martin is in town along with several other NIC officials and trustees, including board Chair Christie Wood and trustees Judy Meyer and Ron Vieselmeyer. Tomorrow, NIC has its budget hearing.
A new member of NIC’s delegation visiting lawmakers this year is Teresa Molitor, a lobbyist with Centra Consulting. In past years, the college has joined with the local Chamber of Commerce or city on lobbying the Legislature, but this year, it decided to bring on its own lobbyist. “We just felt that we needed to do a better job of making sure all the legislators, and not just our 15 from North Idaho, know our story,” Martin said. NIC signed a six-month contract with Centra for $12,000, payable at $2,000 a month starting Nov. 15, 2008. Noted Rolly Jurgens, vice president for administrative services, “We’re 400 miles away. … We joke once in a while from Coeur d’Alene that we’re in a different country from Boise.”