SUNBURY, Pa. — Pennsylvania's 15th community college will open this fall in Erie. Officials in central Pennsylvania hope to open number 16 soon after that.
"This is a long process, all the while appealing to our local elected officials to establish this community college," said Lenaire Ahlum, executive director of the Susquehanna Valley Community Education Project.
The group has been doing studies for more than a decade about putting a community college in central Pennsylvania. Ahlum announced on Thursday that the project's economic impact study is finished, and a community college could bring in nearly $80 million to the region over the next ten years.
"When you factor in the middle-priority jobs, it's over 11,000 jobs that are unfilled. The only mechanism proven to offset that level of demand is a regional community college," Ahlum said.
Officials with the community college say it will most likely go in the city of Sunbury because it's a centralized location and it's more of an urban area.
"We have definitely looked at a lot of locations, and there are a lot of opportunities for locations, so a physical property is not an issue because there is a lot of stock in the real estate market right now," Meghan Beck said.
The college would primarily serve people in Northumberland, Union, Snyder, and Montour Counties. Currently, the closest ones are in Harrisburg and Nanticoke.
"The fact that it is affordable is really the reason why a community college is so important to have in our region," Beck said.
Officials hope the new community college will open in 2023.