HCTC announces new Business Champions Council

Advocacy logo - three people about to compete in raceHazard Community and Technical College has lost a significant amount of state funding over the last several years, and business leaders are stepping up to let legislators know they agree with Gov. Matt Bevin that Kentucky can do better. Several local business leaders are serving as Business Champions as part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System s (KCTACS) Fuel the Force campaign, which is asking for restoration of postsecondary education funding.

The HCTC Business Champions Council is asking legislators to support the Council on Postsecondary Education s (CPE) budget request that recently was submitted to Gov. Bevin. In the request, CPE asks for half of the decrease in state appropriations since 2008 to be restored to the nine public postsecondary education institutions, which includes KCTCS.

Business leaders are concerned about how loss of funding is affecting their ability to hire skilled workers and the effect it has on local economies. Many champions signed on to the HCTC campaign, and members elected Darrel W. Short, Corporate Safety Manager for Blackhawk Mining LLC and Mike Miller, executive director of the Kentucky River Area Development District as the co-chairs of the Council. They are part of a statewide group of hundreds of business leaders who ve become Business Champions.

Other local Business Champions are: J.B. Morgan, Citizens Bank amp; Trust in Jackson, Tim Bobrowski of Owsley County Board of Education in Booneville, Darrell R. Shouse of Middle KY Community Action Partnership in Jackson, Jerry McIntosh of Owsley County Board of Education in Booneville, Derrick Bowling of KY Farm Bureau in Hazard, Betsy Clemons of Hazard/Perry County Chamber of Commerce, Vera Hopper of KY Mountain Health Alliance and Little Flowers Clinic in Hazard, L.D. Gorman of Black Gold Sales, Inc. in Hazard, Robin Gabbard of Foundation for Appalachian KY in Chavies, Julie Akemon of Peoples Bank amp; Trust Company in Hazard, Fred Brashear of Hyden Citizens Bank, Joel Brashear of Hyden Citizens Bank, Monica Couch of Hospice of the Bluegrass, Stephen D. Bowling of the Breathitt County Library in Jackson, Jacob Colley of Southeast KY Chamber, Lewis Warrix of Citizens Bank and Trust, Owsley County Judge Executive Cale Turner, Janice Brafford King of Community Trust Bank, Joseph Stidham of Stidham Reconstruction and Investigation, Dan Stone of Hazard ARH, Amy Prater of Wolfe County Health and Rehabilitation Center, Knott County Judge Executive Zack Weinberg, Jennifer Combs of Sykes, Dr. Steven Howard, P.L.L.C, Cecelia Stewart of Kentucky River Community Care.

Community colleges are the engine of Kentucky s workforce and are the state s largest providers of workforce education and training, said co-chair Mike Miller. To be a better state, we have to have a well-educated workforce and now is the time to reinvest in Kentucky s higher education.

Even though the recession ended several years ago, Kentucky is one of only a handful of states that has not begun reinvesting in higher education. Additionally, Kentucky is one of only three state in the nation joining Oklahoma and West Virginia that has continued to cut per student funding for higher education each of the last two years.

We re very appreciative of the Business Champions Council and their willingness to tell policy makers how they re being affected by state budget cuts to higher ed and the importance of reinvesting in our college so that Kentucky can become better, said HCTC Interim President Dr. Juston Pate. These leaders represent the companies we work with regularly and have built relationships with over the years. We are partners in education and job creation for the region.

The Business Champions Council will take part in a business showcase event during the 2016 General Assembly to highlight the careers they offer and how they align with HCTC programs. Additionally, Champions will attend a legislative rally and reception on Feb. 18 in Frankfort. Other outreach efforts include calls, emails, inviting legislators to visit a workplace or other face-to-face meetings.