Celebrate Billings group to discuss education issues in community

The Greater Yellowstone Business and Education Council will hold its second meeting Tuesday and discuss educational issues facing the community and begin developing a process to address them.

Gazette Staff

Dr. Leo Presley, a leadership and management expert from Oklahoma who has guided several state agencies through community development efforts, will facilitate the meeting set for 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Montana State University-Billings Student Union Building Ballroom.

The council is an education/business partnership group that was launched by Celebrate Billings in May at a meeting that attracted more than 120 business and industry leaders from the Billings area.

The council appointed Michael Gulledge, publisher of The Billings Gazette, as chairman. Steering committee members selected were David Irion, executive director of St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation; John Cech, dean of the MSU-Billings College of Technology; Rae Olson, marketing director of PPL-Montana; Bruce Whittenberg, community leadership consultant; Joe McClure, executive director of Big Sky Economic Development Authority, and Sharon Peterson, state director for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus.

The committee has identified several educational issues facing Billings. Among those issues:

# Lack of two-year and certificate workforce-training opportunities in the greater Billings area for healthcare, business and industry.

# Critical need for the Billings community to be able to quickly respond to training needs of existing businesses and potential new businesses.

"The council can play a major role in helping to increase the awareness of the necessity to expand our two-year education opportunities throughout the community," Gulledge said in his invitation to Tuesday’s meeting.

The invitation notes that 86 percent of higher education students in Billings are enrolled in four-year degree programs and that worker shortages in the Billings area are expected to increase, particularly in the trades, service industries, health care technology and computer technologies. The council hopes to bring business and industry, and secondary and post-secondary institutions together to develop appropriate programs to address those shortages.

In his invitation, Gulledge said Presley will lead the group in developing a "community coalition" approach, which will serve as the guide for developing some solutions to the issues that have been identified.

Those interested in attending the meeting should RSVP by calling Evelyn Noennig at The Gazette at 657-1226, or via email at [email protected]. Hot breakfast will be served and parking will be provided in the Cisel Hall parking lot just off North 27th Street.

Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

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