Lehigh Carbon and Northampton community colleges are joining community colleges across the Commonwealth to launch a new statewide campaign that calls on policymakers and candidates to make expanding opportunities at community colleges an economic priority in Pennsylvania. Called "AdvancePA," the campaign will highlight the importance of community colleges to Pennsylvania's economic recovery.

At a news conference in Harrisburg, officials from the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges shared the results of a recent statewide survey by Zogby International that shows an extraordinary depth of support for community colleges.

The poll reveals that 93 percent of respondents believe that the type of job training and education programs community colleges provide is important to the economy. Eight in ten say community colleges should be given more resources, with only 11 percent saying they disagree.

The programs offered at Pennsylvania's community colleges vary based upon the regional needs of employers and workforce trends, and each year, programs are modified or retired if they are no longer relevant. In recent years NCC and LCCC have added programs such as biotechnology, geographic information systems, and hospitality services to meet local demand.

In addition to associate degree programs, both colleges also offer certificate, diploma, and non-credit programs and customized training for area businesses. Together they serve more than 28,000 students a year. That number has jumped by 12 % in the last two years.

"The influx of students is unprecedented," says Don Snyder, president of Lehigh Carbon Community College. "In other parts of the country, community colleges have had to turn students away. Voters don't want that to happen in Pennsylvania."

Dr. Arthur Scott, president of Northampton Community College, agrees. "Community colleges are lifelines for students of all ages. They are also vital resources for businesses of all sizes, and powerful economic engines for their communities and for the state as a whole. Voters recognize that Pennsylvania's future financial viability will be directly impacted by the state's handling and investment in community colleges."

From now until Election Day, AdvancePA will be educating current policymakers as well as gubernatorial and legislative candidates, the media and public about how community colleges support Pennsylvania's citizens by providing education and skills to stimulate the economy. For more information about the campaign, visit: www.advancepa.net [1].