Tell us a little about Polk State College Insurance.
Polk State College proudly serves as Polk County’s largest higher education institution and workforce training provider, with nearly 13,000 degree-seeking students and nearly 9,000 individuals in workforce training programs each year. Polk State offers 24 associate degrees, six baccalaureate degrees, and 26 certificate programs in areas including Aerospace, Criminal Justice, Education, Health Sciences, and Supervision and Management. A recent study illustrates Polk State’s significant impact on the community and students, with the College’s credit programs adding $215.5 million to the Polk County economy annually. Furthermore, for every $1 a student invests in Polk State through out-of-pocket expenses and forgone time and money, they receive a cumulative value of $5 in higher future earnings. With more than 70% of Polk State students remaining in Polk County after graduation, our College is accelerating the economic development of our community.
What made you join the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and what would you say to other Florida leaders about the benefit of this partnership?
In 2017, I returned to Florida after nearly six years with the Virginia Community College System to assume the role of Polk State College President. As a first-time college president, joining the Florida Chamber was critical to me to not only learn about the current status and future plans for our state’s businesses, but to also connect with leaders across the state so that I can most effectively contribute to the important work being done to accelerate the economic development of Florida. The Florida Chamber provides a network of business leaders who unite, collaborate, envision, and drive businesses across the state and the future of Florida.
What are Polk State College’s particular areas of interest as they apply to reaching the Florida 2030 Blueprint goals designed to make Florida a top 10 global economy by 2030?
As a leading institution of higher education and workforce training, Polk State College is critical to each of the six pillars outlined in the Florida 2030 Blueprint. Specifically, Polk State and the Florida College System (FCS) are pivotal to Improving Florida’s Talent Pipeline for a Better Workforce. Polk State boasts some of the highest employment and continuing education rates in the FCS; for example, 92% of Polk State Associate in Science graduates are employed or continuing their education – the highest in the state. Our College recognizes an opportunity to expand its geographical footprint so that higher education and workforce training are even more accessible to thousands more residents.
The development of a Polk State campus in Haines City adjacent to AdventHealth Heart of Florida will allow our College to expand critical areas including health sciences, supply chain and logistics, and general education courses for the Associate in Arts degree. The location of the future campus is the fastest-growing region of Polk County, which is one of the top 10 fastest growing counties in Florida. Additionally, the 10-mile radius of the future campus is significant because it includes 80,000 residents whose highest education is a high school diploma or some college, but no degree. This region of the state is also projected to have nearly 17,000 new jobs in the next decade. This development will contribute directly to improving Florida’s talent pipeline.
Click here to learn about the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Board of Trustees, which is uniting Florida businesses for good around the Florida 2030 Blueprint.