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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Winter/Spring 2010

Taking An Entrepreneurial Approach: Reinventing a Workforce Training Facility at South Seattle Commu

Tuesday, January 19, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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By Jill Wakefield, Chancellor
Gary Oertli, Interim President and Vice Chancellor
Joseph Hauth, Director, Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center
Georgetown Campus, South Seattle Community College, Seattle, WA


Successfully reinventing a college campus entails working with several critical components to ensure long-term success. The successful renovation of the Georgetown Campus of South Seattle Community College (SSCC) resulted from:

  • Strong commitment from college leadership to address the deficiencies of the training facility based on clearly defined needs developed in close consultation with key stakeholders.
  • A clearly defined strategic plan that is well communicated and provides direction for new initiatives.
  • Active partnership development in successfully leveraging innovative local, state and federal support in capital program development and working collaboratively to meet a common workforce development goals.
  • Sustained support and encouragement of members of the college leadership team who are tasked with program design and implementation.

This article describes how SSCC took an entrepreneurial approach in developing a new contract and entrepreneurship training center.

The Seattle Community Colleges and Georgetown Campus

The Seattle Community Colleges serve metropolitan Seattle and surrounding communities, comprising the largest community college district in the state of Washington and educating more than 52,000 students annually. Graduates of the Seattle Community Colleges academic and workforce education programs work in the top companies of the region, including Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Costco.

With nearly 3,000 employees, the district is one of the region’s leading employers. The colleges’ 1,900 courses and 135 academic and workforce education programs mirror the state’s manufacturing and technology industry trends. Like the region, the college population is dynamic. The Seattle Community Colleges have one of the most diverse student bodies in the Northwest (supporting 80 different first languages) and lead in providing educational access to students who have been traditionally under-served in higher education.

SSCC’s Georgetown Campus (formerly Duwamish Apprenticeship and Education Center) is located in the heart of Seattle’s industrial zone and Washington’s largest manufacturing center. The campus is near a major airport, seaport, and manufacturing operations, making it an ideal location for industrial and trades training and related services. The campus was an early adopter of innovative programs in English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction and in apprenticeship program development.

Building on the Past

In the 1960s the Duwamish campus was housed within the Seattle School District with a strong emphasis on apprenticeship programs in the construction and building trades. It was an excellent early model of collaboration between business and labor to provide qualified employees to meet workforce needs. After the formation of SSCC in the late 1960s, Duwamish was administratively assigned as a component of the college and for a time was the primary educational unit of the college.

As enrollments grew, training programs and ESL classes offered at the campus became constrained by space. Due to strong growth in apprenticeship training programs, parking was inadequate and classrooms were at capacity. In addition, the facilities were outdated, consisting of World War II Quonset huts and other obsolete facilities. While several buildings had been renovated, the condition of the facilities resulted in an accreditation recommendation in 2000 for improvements, and it was clear that a major makeover was needed to adequately serve students and the community. In its 2001-2003 strategic plan, SSCC outlined future plans for its physical facilities, including the Duwamish campus.

Adjacent to the Duwamish Campus was a facility owned by the Washington State Department of National Resources that the college had been trying to obtain for several years. In 2004 a committee composed of business, education, government, labor and community representatives was formed under the leadership of SSCC’s president to examine ways to obtain the property and to seek supporting funding through a variety of sources. The committee worked closely with members of the Washington State Legislature to obtain the property. The initiative succeeded, resulting in a long-term lease that allowed the college to expand the campus to more than 13 acres. The college also acquired a small additional parcel from the Port of Seattle.

A Strategic Coalition

Following the success in obtaining the property needed to expand the campus, the coalition of business, labor, government, economic development organizations and community groups formally began serving as a strategic advisory committee to the college. The coalition considered the economic development and workforce education needs of the industrial Duwamish corridor and surrounding low-income communities–relatively lower income residents, many of whom were minorities–and a large base of industrial, warehousing and distribution employers offering family-wage jobs while facing increasingly global competition.

Based on extensive outreach with the business, labor, workforce and local community, the resulting 2007-2012 Strategic Plan outlined a strategic vision and goals for the campus and guides ongoing capital and programmatic development at the Georgetown Campus1. Entrepreneurship training was a key element identified in the strategic planning objectives.

From Strategy to Action
The Georgetown Campus has taken on significant capital construction and programmatic initiatives in the past several years. The college has completely redesigned the Georgetown Campus landscape, with a new entrance. The college removed the old, temporary World War II-era buildings, replacing them with four state-of-the-art apprenticeship and training facilities.

Table 1 illustrates the diverse funding sources for the campus renovation, including federal, state and private resources.

In addition to renovating the apprenticeship training program facilities, the strategic plan included creation of the Puget Sound Industrial Excellence Center (PSIEC). The PSIEC is designed to be a one-stop business and entrepreneurial service center that provides services for area businesses and training and entry points for persons who might not otherwise have access to family-wage jobs. The coalition developed several strategic objectives for the PSIEC:

  • Expand educational opportunities at the campus in such areas as new pre-apprenticeship programs and safety training.
  • Offer new programs such as new green jobs training in manufacturing and specialized training for local employers.
  • Provide innovative services that complement the college’s education and training mission including entrepreneurial training to small business owners in partnership with government and community-based organizations.

The PSIEC, with its strategic focus on contract training and new training program development, complements the multiple apprenticeship programs on campus. The center is responsive to changing economic and demographic forces, for instance, in developing green jobs training in residential and commercial energy auditing that allows dislocated and incumbent workers to develop new skill sets in this emerging field.

Another entrepreneurial funding strategy was the college’s initiative in seeking federal financing that regional community colleges had not typically accessed. In particular, the college president led a proposal to seek public works project funding through the U.S. Economic Development Agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. In December 2007 the Central Puget Sound Economic Development District provided highest priority ranking to the president’s proposed expansion of the PSIEC2.

In support of this initiative, the college was recently awarded a $4 million federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency for the PSIEC expansion, with construction anticipated to begin in 2010. Funding will be used to help design and build a Leadership in Environment and Energy Design (LEED)-certified, 9,800-square-foot building addition.

Along with a $1 million appropriation from the Washington State Legislature and a $200,000 donation from The Norcliffe Foundation, the $5.2 million capital expansion will be used to accommodate additional entrepreneurship and green jobs training, expand campus conference facilities, and provide space for business, government and community partners onsite.

Results and Long-term Benefits

Today the Georgetown Campus trains more than 4,000 apprentices–25 percent of the state total–in more than 20 different trades annually, supporting more than 4,000 businesses with 70,000 employees located in the surrounding corridor. New green jobs and entrepreneurship training programs at the PSIEC are under way, and the campus supports a wide variety of forums dedicated to small business development for the large number of diverse, minority-owned businesses seeking to expand and take advantage of emerging workforce opportunities in a challenging economic environment.

For example, through the PSIEC minority and immigrant restaurant owners are receiving specialized training in accounting, management and marketing. Dislocated workers are receiving specialized training in new green jobs training, including weatherization and energy auditing. Onsite partners are actively collaborating with the college in designing new green jobs training programs that directly serve local manufacturing community needs by leveraging state and federal funding opportunities.

With its proximity to the manufacturing and industrial community and its central location in Washington’s largest employment center, the campus attracts workforce development agencies and serves as a convener for new workforce development initiatives through conferences, meetings and special events. The planned PSIEC expansion will facilitate additional new jobs creation through innovative training programs and new onsite business development partnerships.

For more information, contact Joseph Hauth at


1The strategic plan is available online at:

2Additional information on funding opportunities through the U.S. Economic Development Administration is at:


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