The College of Southern Idaho is all about the community that surrounds it, and it’s a relationship that has cut both ways since the school held its first class nearly 50 years ago.
Magic Valley residents were eager to show their support when plans were being laid out in the early 1960s to open a junior college in the area. And as a result, in the fall of 1965, the first evening academic classes and vocational classes were taught at what would become the College of Southern Idaho (CSI).
Whether it’s through the new Applied Technology and Innovation Center (ATIC), the Idaho Small Business Development Center, the CSI Refugee Center or the Community Education Center, CSI is playing a key role in community and workforce development for Twin Falls and the surrounding region.
“We do the things that are reflective of the college’s need to be a true community college, where we’re offering not only academic programs, but we’re offering things that benefit the community as a whole,” says Stacy Madsen, director of the Community Education Center (CEC). “Community education fills that niche within our campus.”
Courses for All
As its name implies, the CEC runs the gamut of programs offered to residents, businesses and industries. It has a full schedule of adult hobby and enrichment classes, from dog obedience to cooking classes. The center also has programs for youth, and it works with AARP to offer classes primarily for seniors.
In workforce development, the CEC works closely “with area businesses to create training programs that are specific to the needs of the companies,” Madsen says.
“Oftentimes, we will create classes that are specific to industry, like OSHA classes, forklift training classes or maybe classes in computer applications. We do a lot of communications and office workplace productivity classes.”
In addition, within the CEC is the college’s Fine Arts Center, which includes three major venues for the arts: the 1,000-seat Fine Arts Auditorium, the 400-seat Fine Arts Theater and the 90-seat recital hall.
Support for Business
The recently completed ATIC is a new connection between CSI and the community. The $8.5 million, 42,000-square-foot facility houses many programs, such as those for wind energy and manufacturing technology, that were either without set locations or were elsewhere on campus. The ATIC is led by David Wyett, chair of the Trade and Industry department, and Brandi Turnipseed, director of CSI Workforce Development.
Through its Idaho Small Business Development Center (ISBDC), CSI is helping to lead small businesses in the region toward success.
“Our goal is growing Idaho’s small businesses,” says Bryan Matsuoka, director of ISBDC since 1996. “So aligning with that whole concept, our measures are based on economic impact. Twenty percent of our resources are allocated to starting businesses, and the other 80 percent are focused on growing those businesses with impact. We do that in two ways: consulting and low-cost training.”
CSI has a unique relationship with the community through its Refugee Program, which has resettled more than 2,500 refugees from many different countries. The program helps to provide local businesses with a steady source of entry-level workers, as well as graduating students from the college who go on to pursue careers in the region.