Brookings, Lake Area Tech develop partnership
By Lake Area Technical Institute
The Brookings Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) of Brookings, SD, Vision Brookings, and Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD have joined forces to develop a unique partnership between a community and a technical college. As part of Lake Area Tech’s “Learn Where You Earn” initiative, the three entities will collaborate and expand on Lake Area Tech’s presence in Brookings, enhancing the delivery of expanded education, workforce education and training programming.
Al Heuton, Executive Director of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation comments, “The BEDC and Vision Brookings have recognized for many years the need for the delivery of workforce education and training programs in Brookings. Forming a stronger relationship with Lake Area Tech will enhance the community’s ability to receive workforce training and education programming, and facilitate student access to services and financial aid. We are excited to be working in close partnership with LATI to serve Brookings area employers.”
Like many communities in South Dakota and across the country, Brookings is facing shortages in the high-demand, technically skilled fields. Brookings business and advanced manufacturing companies have continued to express their desire to provide convenient access to expanded workforce education and training opportunities through the provision of such services in Brookings. Mike Cartney, President of Lake Area Tech explains, “Lake Area Tech’s mission is to improve South Dakota’s technically skilled workforce pipeline. We recognize the needs of Brookings and its greater community and see this initiative as the way to assist in addressing those needs.”
Lake Area Tech will be a key player in delivering the type of additional technically skilled education and training Brookings needs for their community. Whether it is long or short term training, high school dual credit or online education, Lake Area Tech will provide expanded technical education opportunities within the community. Programming will be developed and funded through Lake Area Tech’s federal TAACCCT grant, the BEDC, and several initiatives. Lake Area Tech’s Learn Where You Earn initiative is specifically focused on supporting both online and face-to-face distance access to higher education. Through this initiative, Brookings companies will have the opportunity to train and upskill their current employees while they continue to work. Additionally, SDSU and Lake Area Tech are partnering to raise South Dakota’s college graduate numbers through their joint “Opening Doors” initiative. Both post-high institutions are working together to develop solid articulation agreements, dual degrees and stronger relationships between the staff and students at both institutions. “We are excited to have Lake Area Tech in Brookings and showcase the collaborative relationship between our institutions,” SDSU President Barry Dunn said. “Hundreds of businesses in our region are seeking highly skilled and well-trained individuals with postsecondary degrees. Combining our resources to create quality educational opportunities will address a need within our own community, but also continue to open doors to industries throughout the state and all along the I-29 corridor.”
Lindsie Bartley, former BEDC employee and Campus Director for the South Dakota Education Campus in Brookings, has been retained as the Lake Area Tech Business Partner Specialist-Brookings. Bartley will be positioned in Brookings and will be tasked with identifying industry partners, forming and maintaining relationships, and assisting industry with creative ways to meet the workforce training demands in the Brookings area.
“Lake Area Tech is excited about this partnership,” President Cartney said. “It’s another opportunity to open doors for South Dakota and strengthen our economy.”