For more than two decades, Dr. Marjorie Welch has been providing a path to success for her students. From her early years as a high school chemistry teacher through advancement and into her role as President of Southwestern Community College (SWCC), the students have always been priority number one. That’s why, when contacted by the Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC) about plans to build a technology center, her immediate thoughts were of the broad-ranging implications it would bring to not only her students, but also those in local and regional high schools and the south central Iowa industries dependent on a strong workforce.
“This is an exciting venture for Osceola and the CCDC,” said Welch. “Providing the necessary training and increasing the skills of students throughout the area directly impacts the economy at multiple levels.”
Dr. Welch speaks of the excitement and economic advantages from a position of experience. Through her role as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, she not only saw the impact an industry-focused tech center provided her students, but also the advantages it gave local businesses in the form of a stronger, more prepared workforce.
By developing partnerships with the local high schools as well as her community college and local industries, Dr. Welch’s plan for the tech center proved a quick success for students preparing for a future in the workforce as well as continuing education access to more than a dozen businesses in the Council Bluffs area. With programs ranging from welding and manufacturing basics to carpentry, HVAC, plumbing, and on to advanced CNC precision milling and robotics, the exciting paths available to her students and the local workforce became a draw many community colleges struggle to provide.
“This is what set’s Dr. Welch apart,” says Bill Trickey, CCDC Executive Director. “She’s been leading ventures like this for years. Her ability to advise on our program adds value to the venture, helping us deliver results for our students and our vast manufacturing base.”
Early in 2023, after the announcement of the $2-million U.S. Department of Commerce funding for the development of a regional training center in Osceola, a team of professionals ranging from local government to CCDC board members, educators and local manufacturing leadership gathered to discuss needs and potential programming for the center. Dr. Welch quickly became a foundational sounding board with her insights from her Iowa Western days as well as how SWCC would be able to offer insights and support for student achievements and community involvement.
“It always came back to helping the students and the industrial partners succeed,” said Trickey. “When you have Dr. Welch’s experience on your side, seeing the plan come to fruition gets more exciting with each discussion.”
While no commitment from SWCC had formally been made, Dr. Welch’s input proved valuable in the discussions for design and planning for the tech center. With its location right next to the SWCC Osceola campus building, it became apparent the mutual benefit the college and the development corporation had in the venture.
Brian Crawford, COO of Denovo Construction Services, the design/build company working with the CCDC on the new tech center as well as a Clarke Community Schools board member went on to state,
“[Dr. Welch] sees the advantages from all angles. As an education professional who’s been in partnership with local industry as well as her focus on the future of her current and incoming students, her input on this project has been highly valuable.”
“Community colleges make a tremendous difference in rural Iowa,” said Welch. “The difference a tech center like this will make to our students, local high school students, and our growing workforce will be immeasurable.”
For more than a year and a half, Dr. Marjorie Welch has been President at Southwest Community College. With her focus on not only the growth and success of the college, she also brings a commitment to all areas SWCC touches. From student success to industry partnerships and across campus-to-campus including the communities they’re in, each corner of the SWCC world thrives from Dr. Welch’s efforts and her endless passion for student and industry success.