Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 2, 2013

Forum: Why we’re voting 'yes' on NMC millage

By Barb Benson and Bill Marsh Jr.
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Northwestern Michigan College means a lot of things to a lot of people. For more than 60 years it has provided higher education opportunities that our region had sorely lacked. It is an economic driver for our area, worth an estimated $188 million annually. It is a great investment for students, as every dollar they spend on their education at NMC translates to $5.30 in increased future earnings.

That’s not to mention what NMC means as a valued contributor to the arts, with nationally renowned choral programs and the internationally revered Dennos Museum Center.

As business people, we know a good investment. That’s why we support the NMC millage. We see it every day. Workers trained at NMC are able to make an immediate impact in the workplace. Employees who are not only working, but also going back to school and learning new skills to make them even more valuable and marketable.

The proposal is for 0.4 mills for 15 years to return the college’s total millage rate to the 2.57 mills that Grand Traverse County voters approved in 1995. Due to the Headlee Amendment the rate has decreased to its current level. This millage will be worth $1.7 million in additional revenue that will help offset decreases in state and local funding over the last decade. The millage will mean an increase of about $3 per month for the average Grand Traverse County resident. Ten cents a day seems like a good investment in a world-class community college right here in our back yard.

The college has done a great job in keeping tuition costs down, as 19 of the 27 other Michigan community colleges have higher tuition rates than NMC. The college is a great bargain for Grand Traverse County residents with a tuition rate that is half that of residents of other areas of the state.

Because the millage is operational, NMC can’t trot out blueprints or a scale model of something they’re going to build with the money.

What the college does have is a set of defined strategic directions that guide them. They are committed to ensuring that NMC learners are prepared to succeed in a global society economy. They are establishing national and international competencies in educational areas connected to our regional economy and assets.

This requires new approaches to learning, new programs, credentials and talent, requiring an investment of resources.

This is our college. It is the oldest and best community college in the state and this community has always supported it, and taken great pride in doing so. Whenever we have needed NMC to step in and take the lead in training our workers, adding or modifying programs or helping us access resources they have done so without fail.

NMC matters to our community. That’s why we are voting “yes” Tuesday for the NMC millage.

About the authors: Barb Benson was born and raised in Traverse City and is retired from Schmuckal Oil Co. She serves on various local boards. Bill Marsh Jr. is a partner in the Bill Marsh Auto Group, a 250-employee automotive retailer based in Traverse City. They are co-chairs of the Friends of NMC Committee.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by e-mailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.