Never underestimate the power of community

Friday, more than 100 people gathered on the Owensboro Community and Technical College campus to cut the ribbon on the Owensboro Industry Innovation Center. There are so many reasons why this event was one to truly celebrate.

The first thing to celebrate is the breadth and the depth of the programs that will be housed in the building. They are gamechangers for people of our community. Welding, plasma cutting, electrical technology, multicraft technology, robotics, pipe welding, geothermal, building automated systems, HVAC, robotic welding, fabrication and air conditioning will all be taught in this interactive and high-tech building.

The next reason for celebration — these are all occupations that have a labor shortage. In other words, in each of these areas, there is an opportunity for our local youths to become educated for a career they know is waiting for them after they receive their diploma or certificate. And there are opportunities for adults who are currently in our workforce looking for a better life.

And even further — these are good-paying jobs. These are opportunities that make a real impact on the standard of living of the person doing the work. Just look through the list — every occupation listed has room for growth and earning power. These are quality-of-life jobs for people who are consumers, taxpayers and citizens. OCTC Board Chair Jeff Carpenter reminded us at the gathering that 85-90 percent of their graduates go on to live in our region.

The last thing to celebrate is the sense of community that it took to make the building — and the transformational opportunities housed in the building — a reality. Our community proves time and time again that we can accomplish those goals that we feel are most important.

The names on the wall in the Industry Innovation Center are vast. They are from all over our region, from towns and from rural areas, from the private sector and from the public realm. There are businesses, families and individuals. They pooled their resources together to create a space that will empower each person who walks through the door.

On the top of the donor list is the statement, “Never Underestimate the Power of Community.” Let us never forget this. It makes us shine.

By Candance Brake President and CEO, Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce