The state-required feasibility study on whether Erie has enough support to start a community college is almost complete.  “Empower Erie,” the group working on the project is encouraged.

Empower Erie commissioned a random phone survey of 500 Erie County residents.  Consulting firm Parker Philips released the survey findings to Erie News now. A strong majority, 72% think it’s important for Erie to have a community college.  That support jumps to 78%, among females who took the survey. Nearly three out of four people believe there are enough potential students to support a community college.

The survey also found that affordability drives those who support the idea of a community college that would focus on skills training, as well as remedial education for students not quite ready for the rigors of college. Those surveyed who do not support the concept think Erie has enough trade schools or colleges already.

Chairman Ron DiNicola told Erie News Now that Empower Erie is very encouraged by the findings, and he also talked about next steps in the study process.  “It was a very substantial sampling and the results seem very clear that families are recognizing the need to have that educational opportunity,” DiNicola said.  “Part of our study will be feasibility and that is nearing completion and then its on to refining curriculum, and the number of students we’ll be trying to serve and the financial component,” he added.  He said that part will be taking place over the next month or so.

Empower Erie hopes to have a full proposal to Erie County Council for approval in June. They would be the government body who would submit application to the state.  Community College funding in the Pennsylvania model, is typically comprised of one third from local government, one third from the state and the last third from student tuition.

Watch the video here.