Business leaders meet new SOWELA chancellor

Business leaders meet new SOWELA chancellor

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Economic development success often hinges on a qualified workforce. That's one reason business people in our area came out this morning to meet the new chancellor of SOWELA Technical Community College.

Good things are happening at Sowela Technical  Community College.  A new arts and sciences building is going up. They're moving into the new process technology center. And in nursing they have state of the art training tools. Students get hands on training with lifelike mannequins.

The Southwest Louisiana business community turned out for a welcome breakfast for the new chancellor. Business leaders like George Swift say a trained workforce is key for the future. "We've had $26 billion. I said billion dollars in announced projects. We're going to need thousands of workers. And the pressure is on."

And the consensus here is that Dr. Neil Aspinwall is the man for the job at SOWELA. "When industry comes to look at your area the first question they have is what kind of trained workers do you have? What kind of education facilities do you have? And if you don't have what we need we're going to go two counties or two parishes or two states over,"said Aspinwall."

He says if a business needs workers with certain skills they should contact SOWELA. He says many who go there get better paying jobs than those who get a four year degree. "We have to show live examples of students who have come to SOWELA and now are working in an industry or technical job and they are making $70, $80 or $90 thousand dollars a year."

And he says they plan some cosmetic changes to better identify the campus. "When I first visited I said, 'Well, am I at college or an airport?'" said Aspinwall.  He added they'll work hard to see SOWELA through accreditation.

Aspinwall also talked about the process underway for SOWELA to become accredited by the southern association of colleges and schools commissions on colleges.  If accredited Aspinwall says it will put SOWELA on a level playing field with many other colleges and universities in this southern region of the country.

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