by April Scheinoha
The impact of Northland Community and Technical College is far and wide. At its meeting Tuesday, May 17, the Thief River Falls City Council heard a presentation about NCTC.
This year, the Thief River Falls campus served 2,250 students. The East Grand Forks campus served a slightly larger student population. Dr. Dennis Bona, NCTC president, said the college offers 94 certificate, degree and diploma programs. The campuses have assisted 152 employers by training 3,458 employees. A total of 650 high school students took classes through NCTC – whether on their high school campuses or on an NCTC campus.
The average age of an NCTC student is 26, Bona said. That’s not to say that the college doesn’t serve many 18- or 19-year-olds. The fastest growing age group of students is 35 to 45 at NCTC.
This fall, NCTC plans to offer about 20 evening courses. In the past, the college stopped offering evening courses with the idea that it would only offer additional classes online. NCTC will also offer an agriculture generalist certificate this fall.
Bona said the college also plans to pump up its manufacturing, health, and unmanned aerial systems programs.
Bona challenged the council to speak to any three people in the community and find someone who hasn’t attended NCTC, someone who doesn’t have a family member who attended NCTC, or someone who doesn’t have a friend who has attended NCTC. He also noted it’s hard to find someone working in the healthcare field in Thief River Falls without holding a credential from NCTC.
Besides the student impact, the college also impacts the community in other ways. The Thief River Falls campus employs 198 people. The college has a total payroll of $11 million and spends $500,000 locally each year. Bona noted that the college tries to use as many local professionals for its construction and renovation projects. It recently completed a multimillion dollar project that featured a hangar, a classroom addition and other improvements at its aviation campus.
Currently, the NCTC Foundation is in the process of renovating Foxtail Townhomes, which are located next to the Thief River Falls campus. The foundation recently purchased the five buildings for student housing. The buildings contain a total of 144 beds. The purchase and renovation project is estimated to cost $3.7 million.
Students are clamoring for the apartments. Bona said the college has received 165 housing applications so far. For the time being, NCTC expects that it will continue to need additional housing offered by the University of North Dakota. The University of Minnesota, Crookston has also offered housing on its campus for NCTC students. NCTC is currently working out arrangements with both universities. Both are considered to be stop gaps with the NCTC Foundation considering the construction of additional apartments in the future.
Given the number of housing applications, Bona expected that the NCTC Foundation could build the case for building one or two additional apartment buildings in the future. This year, though, he said that the NCTC Foundation needs to work out the kinks of offering student housing.
The NCTC Foundation expects about $100,000 in revenue per year if the apartments remain filled the whole year, Bona said.
As part of its mission, the NCTC Foundation provides scholarships to students. Bona said it has an endowment of $2.8 million. This year, it awarded 183 scholarships totalling $102,000.