Bedford, PA – The Bedford County Chamber of Commerce and Allegany College of Maryland are pleased to announce an exciting agreement which will make ACM the title educational partner in the Chamber’s Russell House Business & Education Center.
Through business development training, Ask the ACM Expert sessions, quarterly health and wellness events, and placement of Business Management interns, the College will provide in-kind educational programs to the Chamber, its members and the business community valued at nearly $110,000 over a five-year period beginning in January 2018. The educational programs offered by the College to the Chamber will directly correlate with the Chamber’s organizational mission: involve and unify its members to promote continuous improvement of the business climate in the Bedford County region.
“We are thrilled to enter into this extremely valuable partnership,” said Tim Weaverling, Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors. “The training opportunities, access to professional consultations and other elements of the agreement will allow the Chamber to better serve our members and the community, and take our educational offerings to the next level.”
ACM President Dr. Cynthia Bambara added, “The partnership also enhances Allegany College of Maryland’s vision of being the college of choice that transforms lives, strengthens communities, and makes learners the center of everything we do.”
Training sessions will be offered by College faculty and experts with a long history of providing quality educational programs through the credit, continuing education and workforce development sectors of ACM. They will be held bi-monthly beginning in January with a workshop about the FISH Philosophy of Customer Service, to be presented by Wayne Blue, ACM Director of Workforce Development and Training for PA and Adjunct Faculty, Business Administration. Additional sessions will focus on topics such as marketing, business plan creation, relationship selling, cyber security, business and technical writing, economics, ergonomically designed office space, and more.
Ask the ACM Expert sessions will give the business community an opportunity to have quality one-on-one consultations with College faculty with emphasis on topics of particular interest to local companies. For example, a February session will focus on Protecting Customer Data, offered by Mike Miller, owner of Cyber Protection Group and Bedford County Regional Education Foundation board member. Future expert sessions could include topics such as: grant writing for business development, emergency planning for business, sales plan development, small business consulting, among many others.
Quarterly Health & Wellness Events would activate ACM faculty and students in Allied Health Associate Degree programs including Nursing, Physical Therapist Assistant, Respiratory Therapy, and others. These programs will provide students with an opportunity to practice hands-on skills and provide the Chamber of Commerce members, their employees and residents at large the opportunity to obtain health & wellness assessments and health education. The first of these programs will feature the Nursing students offering heart health screenings and education in February, National Heart Health Month. The Massage Therapy program will be featured on April 16th, just before National Tax Day, when they’ll offer chair massage sessions to the business community.
As another element of the partnership, the Chamber will host ACM Business Management Associate Degree interns through their Business Administration 270/Field Placement coursework. This will provide at least 100 hours of on-the-job training for the interns, including hands-on application of communication skills, teamwork, professionalism and leadership skills. The Chamber will receive spring semester office support while the students will have access to experiences learning from Chamber professionals as well as additional future businesses within the Russell House Business Center.
In addition to the formally proposed partnership elements, the Chamber anticipates additional collaboration with ACM through other Chamber and Bedford County Chamber (Educational) Foundation programs and events, including the John Anderson Distinguished Speaker Series, Health & Wellness Symposium and Women in Business Conference.
“We could not have asked for a more comprehensive or creative proposal,” said Weaverling. “The relationship between the Chamber and Allegany College of Maryland is paramount to the success of students in our region and the future of our workforce, and this partnership solidifies our common goal of providing valuable educational programming to students and adults of our region.”
“Together, the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce and the Bedford County Campus of Allegany College of Maryland can enhance the educational opportunities that are available to the members of the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, to entrepreneurs and small businesses utilizing the Russell House, and to the community at large through the Russell House educational partnership,” said Leah Pepple, ACM Director, Pennsylvania Advancement and Community Relations, who will serve as the college educational coordinator for the partnership. “This project will help transform lives and strengthen the local community.”
Programs related to the educational partnership begin in January 2018. Additional details concerning upcoming events will be provided as available.
History of the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce & Russell House Project
About the Chamber: Organized in 1986, the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce is comprised of more than 630 diverse businesses and organizations, including more than 25,000 employees in the county, from world renowned manufacturing and distribution companies to boutiques, restaurants and bed & breakfasts, to family farms and direct sales entrepreneurs. The members of the Chamber share a common goal to promote growth and prosperity for the entire Bedford County community.
The Russell House Business and Education Center will provide a valuable starting-point for new businesses in higher-paying professional fields, potentially including technology, marketing and design, business services, creative fields, law, etc. As many as 16 units of space will be available to entrepreneurs. The goal will be to foster an environment where these businesses can thrive and ultimately expand beyond the confines of the Russell House into other locations in the county, fostering job creation and economic growth.
About the Russell House Project: The Russell House Business & Education Center Project includes the renovation of an historic landmark in Bedford and its re-purposing into a facility to serve the businesses, non-profit organizations, and students of the Bedford County region. In order to create six office suites on the second floor and ten shared offices on the third floor, the renovations include interior upgrades, such as concrete repairs, ADA accessible amenities, carpentry and masonry repairs, window and door improvements, and plumbing, electrical, and data system updates. Proposed uses for the space include: a shared-space business incubator; a professional office space/accelerator opportunities with shared business services; two common areas/community conference rooms; a meeting room dedicated to the St. Francis Small Business Development Center and in-house business coach; business/leadership library; and local/historical art and educational displays in the common areas. The proposed project also includes the establishment of a heritage garden on the property to be maintained by local aspiring master gardeners. The heritage garden will be adjacent to the “Veterans Grove” and will complement and enhance the park. The amenities provided by the proposed project will be available to the 16+ businesses that will be served in the renovated building and to the community at large.
Collaborative Partnerships: As home to the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce and Bedford County (Education) Foundation, the project would serve businesses and students throughout the Bedford County region, including the following school districts: Bedford Area, Everett Area, Chestnut Ridge, Northern Bedford County, Tussey Mountain and Claysburg-Kimmel, as well as parochial and charter schools, St. Thomas, Foundations Christian Academy, and HOPE for Hyndman. The Senior Challenge Program, which provides job-shadowing opportunities for high school students, is also expected to be a project partner. The Bedford County Technical Center hopes to allow job shadowing for building construction students during the renovations and catering experience for the culinary students for potential future events within the Russell House. Other partnerships could include Scout Programs, FFA/4-H, Rotary and Interact Clubs and other education and service entities.
A premier partnership between the Chamber and Allegany College of Maryland will be the cornerstone of collaborative synergies among the region’s educational institutions.
This project will be supported by Chamber membership, the Borough of Bedford, and the Downtown Bedford, Inc. Main Street Program. Additional support will be provided by the Bedford County Development Association and Bedford County Visitors Bureau, as well as local elected officials and organizations. Partnerships with these individuals and organizations will be key elements of this project.
History of the Bedford County Campus of Allegany College of Maryland
The Bedford County Campus of Allegany College of Maryland was founded as a result of a grassroots effort to bring workforce development and postsecondary education to Bedford County and the surrounding region. The goal of the Bedford County Campus is to provide geographic, academic, and financial access to workforce development and higher education for all interested citizens. The Bedford County Campus began operations in 1990 and since that time more than 13,000 people have been served by the local workforce development and post secondary programs offered by the College.
Allegany College of Maryland, Bedford County Campus, with the help of community members from the education, government and business sectors worked collaboratively to gain approval through the Pennsylvania Department of Education to operate in Bedford County in 1990. Ninety students begin their studies when the campus opened in 1990. Since there was no campus facility, evening classes were offered at the Everett Area High School. In 1994, with the assistance of the County Commissioners and the Everett Area School District, the Bedford County Campus facility opened. Due to enrollment growth, an addition was built in 2002 and allowed for additional classrooms, computer labs, and a digital library. Enrollment during the Fall 2017 semester has grown to 389 students, which is an 8.6% increase when compared to Fall 2016 enrollment.
The Bedford County Campus provides post secondary education in the areas of Applied Technical Studies, Business Administration, Business Management, Business Accounting, Business Entrepreneurship, Business Supervision, Computer Science and Technology (Cyber Security, Networking, Programming, Technical Support, and Web Development options), Criminal Justice, General Studies, Nursing, Psychology, and Sociology. To date, 592 students have graduated from the Bedford County Campus. Many more students have taken some credits at the College and then continued their studies at another institution of higher learning for higher degree obtainment.
In addition to the credit side of the Bedford County Campus, the College added the Bedford Institute for Workforce Development and Training to its educational programs in 2000 and began serving the training needs of regional employers. The Institute provides customized workforce development training for business and industry in the Pennsylvania area. The Institute prides itself in helping businesses grow and succeed by designing and delivering workforce training specific to their training needs. Five hundred and fifty-four students were served through continuing education and workforce development programs during the 2016-2017 academic year.
The Bedford County Campus has affiliations with two entities that provide support to students and to the development of the Bedford County Campus. The Bedford County Regional Education Foundation and the Bedford County Advisory Committee work to ensure geographic, academic, and financial access to education for residents of Bedford County and the surrounding region.
Since 1993, the Bedford County Regional Education Foundation has given more than $1.2 million to nearly 7,200 students through scholarships, tuition assistance, Early College tuition assistance, and emergency book funding. This fiscal support provides financial access to postsecondary offerings for numerous students each year. In addition to scholarship support, the Foundation has provided funding for technology upgrades, purchased classroom equipment, and completed several campus facility improvements. The Foundation recently conducted an energy audit on the Bedford County Campus facility and will lead an effort to acquire $450,000 in funding over the next two years to upgrade and replace infrastructure that is well beyond its average life expectancy. Bedford County Regional Education Foundation membership consists of the following volunteers from Bedford and Fulton Counties.
The Bedford County Campus Advisory Committee is organized to provide assistance and recommendations to the ACM administration concerning all aspects of the operation and development of the Bedford County Campus. The Advisory Committee recommends new credit programs and workforce development training programs based on business and community needs. Membership consists of individuals from healthcare, manufacturing, economic development, education, small business, banking, and hospitality sectors. Bedford County Campus Advisory Committee membership consists of the following volunteers from Bedford and Fulton Counties.
The Bedford County Campus of Allegany College of Maryland, along with all college locations, has a positive economic impact on Bedford County and on the region. According to a December 2016 study conducted by EMSI, ACM students realize an average annual return of 15.4% on the money invested on an ACM education. This translates to a return of $3.50 in higher future earnings for every $1 that students invest in their education. For taxpayers, every $1 spent on an ACM education, adds $1.60 due to added state revenue and social savings. For every $1 that society spent on ACM education during the analysis year, society will receive a cumulative value of $4.30 in benefits, for as long as the FY2015-16 student population at ACM remains active in the state workforce. The 2015 Brookings Institution Study ranked ACM among the top 20 community and technical colleges in the nation for the value they add to the future economic success of graduates.