View Mobile Site

5 Questions for Tim McDonald

POSTED: February 25, 2013 12:30 a.m.

Tim McDonald has spent his entire life in Gainesville, so he knows the Northeast Georgia region well. It’s knowledge that helps him greatly in his role helping boost economic development here. As Lanier Technical College’s vice president of economic development, McDonald is continuing a long tradition of using the college as a catalyst for development.

Today, we ask McDonald five questions about the area’s economic development and Lanier Tech’s role in it.

1. Lanier Tech has long been a partner in this region’s economic development activities. Why does the school feel it is important to play such a role?

While innovation and entrepreneurship provide the foundation of economic development, workforce development is the key to maximizing the benefits of innovation. From the founding of the college in 1964, the mission of Lanier Tech has always been workforce development.

The college’s approach to workforce development, and thus economic development, is twofold in that we offer a traditional technical college experience through credit programs that provide current and relevant training that meets the needs of local businesses. These programs range from health care to business to technical to public services. The diversity of our college credit programs mirrors the diversity of our local economy.

Additionally, through the college’s economic development department, we offer fully customizable training to meet the specialized needs of local businesses and industries.

This training is specific to an individual firm and targets the skills gaps that occur due to changing technology or the need to grow a flexible workforce.

The college was founded to provide the workforce development component of economic development and to a person, our faculty and staff (are) not only very qualified, but also very passionate about fulfilling our mission.

2. How has the economy affected students at Lanier Tech and the school’s mission?

Lanier Tech’s student-age demographics are much like any other higher-education institution in that we have a large number of students in their late teens and 20s, but in recent years we have seen a growth in our population of students in their 40s and older.

This growth is due to the needs of these individuals to upgrade their skills or move from a low-labor-demand industry to a higher-labor-demand industry such as health care.

Lanier Tech’s short — four months to 18 months — programs offer the perfect opportunity for a person to acquire the knowledge and skills that are in high demand in our area.

While Lanier Tech’s mission is always relevant, the need for workforce development tends to be magnified during challenging economic times. A well-trained and flexible workforce gives businesses the competitive advantage needed to remain viable during challenging economic cycles.

3. How have the college’s programs integrated with the local business community?

Lanier Tech is part of the Technical College System of Georgia and the TCSG has a staff of curriculum experts who continually review and upgrade the curriculum content of all of our programs based on the employer needs of the state.

On a local level, every program at Lanier Tech utilizes an advisory committee composed of local business leaders knowledgeable in the disciplines of that particular program. These advisory committees guide the college’s instructional process through the recommendation of curriculum updates, technology upgrades and equipment upgrades. The involvement of local businesses ensures that the college is teaching the specific skills needed to meet the requirements of our area employers.

Additionally, as previously mentioned, the economic development department develops very specific training programs to meet the needs of local businesses. We work directly with businesses and industries to identify skill gaps and we develop and deliver specific training plans to upgrade their workforce. Lanier Tech works to specifically target the needs of local businesses and industries.

4. Northeast Georgia has landed a number of large new industries and industry expansions recently. But what is one area in which the region could improve to make it even more attractive for industry?

Northeast Georgia is known globally for our quality of life, educational institutions and business-friendly environment, but will not be immune to the effects of the aging workforce and the diminishing labor pool of skilled workers.

To remain attractive to businesses we must continue to develop a skilled, flexible and innovative workforce.
With the renewed emphasis in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math, the foundation of the future workforce is being solidified.

But in addition to this focus, the rapid changes in technology will require the continual upgrading and reinvention of our workforce. To remain competitive, a workforce culture that understands periodic retraining to upgrade skills will be necessary not only for the individual, but for our entire economy.

5. What do you think the future holds for economic development here?

I think the future is bright for economic development in our region. There are many facets to economic development and what sets our region apart is the collaboration and cooperation between all of the players.

Our local chambers of commerce, industry councils, private developers, utility groups, government agencies, educational systems, and other stakeholders all recognized the importance that economic development plays in our continued high quality of life.

There is truly a partnership here that knows how to maximize all of the available economic development resources. Of course, Lanier Technical College will continue to follow our mission of workforce development. It is the college’s desire to provide the education needed so that our citizens can enjoy prosperous, fulfilling careers and our businesses can remain competitive on a global level.


Contents of this site are © Copyright 2010 The Times, Gainesville, GA. All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...