NICC Solutions Magazine: Vol. 3 Issue 1

Page 1

Partnerships that Improve Our Communities Opportunity Dubuque: Bridging the Skills Gap and Workforce Shortage pg. 4

VOL. 3 | ISSUE 1
caret-right Business and Community Solutions

Meet the New Faces at NICC

Who is Amy Lasack?

“I’m a proud Air Force brat, so growing up, we moved around quite a bit. I came to Iowa for college at Cornell and have been here ever since! I have two boys, Brady (22) and Parker (15). I started my career in social work and then transitioned to work within the community college system for the last 22 years.”

What intrigued you about this opening with NICC?

“I’ve had the opportunity to partner with NICC in the past through my work at Kirkwood Community College and have always been impressed with the innovation and involvement of NICC with their students, businesses and community. The possibility to work within that environment was an exciting opportunity.”

In the first few months at NICC, what is something that has stuck out to you?

“It's been a whirlwind first few months, but by far, the biggest thing that sticks out to me is the collaborative environment in the area. Over and over again, I’ve heard from different entities how excited they have been to partner with NICC. The innovation culture is alive and well in the area, and I am excited to be a part of it.”

What is something you hope to bring to NICC and northeast Iowa?

“Over the last 20+ years, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to learn from some of the best in the community college arena. My goal is to take the greatness of NICC and the Business and Community Solutions division to the next level and elevate the communities, businesses and students even more.”

What is an “Amy fun fact” you could share with everyone?

“I have never seen a Brad Pitt movie. It wasn't intentional at first, but now it is such a fun fact I find myself avoiding Brad Pitt movies.”

Who is Amy Gaffney?

“I lived in Detroit until I was 11 years old, moved to Cedar Rapids, Houston and back to Cedar Rapids to complete my last two years of high school. I am married and have one child, a 21-year-old daughter. Music has always been a way for me to celebrate and connect with all moments of life. I love to read, and I hope to begin my 'year of reading' campaign this summer.”

What intrigued you about this opening with NICC?

“I started my career in higher education unintentionally. However, I’ve been fortunate to build a career in many different areas which serve students. I’ve always known NICC to be dedicated to students, an educational innovator and a great partner with the other institutions and the communities it serves. I read the position description, and it was like reading a playlist of my career experiences.”

In the first few months at NICC, what is something that has stuck out to you?

“The NICC community is filled with hard-working, talented people dedicated to helping students find their path. The connections forged with partners inside and outside of the College are impressive. And above all, the cooperative spirit among staff, faculty and administration is palpable.”

What is something you hope to bring to NICC and northeast Iowa?

“I aim to contribute by providing opportunities that position NICC for success. Leading a tremendous team of professionals who passionately assist students in navigating the college experience every step of the way, I hope will help NICC be the premier solution provider for the varied communities we serve.”

What is an “Amy fun fact” you could share with everyone?

“I lettered in golf in college. (Not that you would know by playing with me today.)”

Wilder Business Center

1625 Hwy. 150 S.

P.O. Box 400 Calmar, IA 52132

Town Clock Business Center

680 Main St., Ste. 100 Dubuque, IA 52001

844.642.2338, ext. 3100

Cresco Center

1020 Second Ave. S.E. Cresco, IA 52136

844.642.2338, ext. 4700

Dubuque Center

700 Main St. Dubuque, IA 52001

844.642.2338, ext. 3100

Iowa’s Dairy Center

1527 Hwy. 150 S. Calmar, IA 52132


Manchester Center

1200 ½ W. Main St. Manchester, IA 52057

844.642.2338, ext. 7700

New Hampton

710 W. Main St. New Hampton, IA 50659

844.642.2338, ext. 7104

RAMS/Oelwein Center 1400 Technology Drive Oelwein, IA 50662

844.642.2338, ext. 6700

LOCATIONS / 844.642.2338, ext. 1399 1 Contents Black Hills Energy and NICC Collaboration Builds Talent Pipeline ................................... 2-3 Opportunity Dubuque: Bridging the Skills Gap and Workforce Shortage ................ 4-5 Successful Strategic Planning: Metrix Company Teams Up with CIRAS and NICC ...............................................6-7 Providing Accessible Education and Training to Local Communities .......................... 8-9 Fulfilling Careers for All with Flourish 10-11 National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) 8342 NICC Drive Peosta, IA 52068 888.844.6322 Small Business Development Center (SBDC) 900 Jackson St, Suite 110 Dubuque, IA 52001 563.588.3350 Waukon Center 1220 Third Ave. N.W., Ste. 102, Waukon, IA 52172 844.642.2338, ext. 6100 For more information about our centers, visit caret-right

Black Hills Energy and NICC Collaboration Builds Talent Pipeline

Northeast Iowa Community College’s partnerships in the energy and utilities sector help to build a reliable pipeline of talented, knowledgeable graduates for the industry. One industry partner, Black Hills Energy, provides curriculum input and supports scholarships for students enrolled in the College's Gas Utility Construction and Service program.


Black Hills Energy employees serve as advisory committee members for the program to help advise NICC on the knowledge base and skill sets required for career success. Committee members also communicate how new technologies are impacting the industry. NICC instructor Al Dolan sees great benefit in the advisory committee’s role in student instruction.

“The committee members are vocal about what skills NICC graduates need, and this is invaluable input for an industry that is always changing in employment needs, emerging technologies and markets,” Al said.

The NICC program offers hands-on experience learning nearly every facet of the industry including pipe installation, heavy equipment operation, building mini-distribution systems in a test plot on campus and more, said Jason Hilby, graduate.

“Almost all of the learning aspects of the program are hands-on and that’s the best way to learn, I think. I enjoyed running the equipment and, for practice, causing excavation damage to a mini-distribution system in the test plot and then repairing it,” Jason said. “Doing some of the simpler things like building meter sets is also built into the program at NICC. I felt like I was ready to hit the ground running when I started at Black Hills Energy.”

Black Hills Energy has also created and funded scholarships for Gas Utility Construction and Service students since 2018. The scholarship has assisted 12 students in their education and training.

“Providing scholarships to students in the Gas Utility Construction and Service program at Northeast Iowa Community College aligns with Black Hills Energy’s commitment to support education and foster talent within the industry. The Gas Utility program helps to cultivate a skilled workforce for energy companies. We are happy to have positive relationships with the staff and faculty at NICC who understand the needs of our team and directly contribute to the advancement in the gas utility sector with the partnership,” said Nicole Breitbach, senior community affairs manager for Black Hills Energy.

Together with energy industry leaders like Black Hills Energy, NICC is helping build our region’s workforce.

Hear more from Jason Hilby and Al Dolan about the Gas Utility Construction & Service program at NICC. / 844.642.2338, ext. 1399 3

Opportunity Dubuque: Bridging the Skills Gap and Workforce Shortage

In 2012, the critical skills gap and workforce shortage in the Dubuque area prompted Greater Dubuque Development Corporation (GDDC) to partner with Northeast Iowa Community College to build a unique training program with a full service approach to help individuals find career tracks with area employers. The result is a collaborative job training program that has since been nationally recognized for its positive local outcomes.

Opportunity Dubuque training programs are short-term workforce certifications that can be completed by students in six months or less. Since its launch, the program has recorded 3,582 certificate completions and connected graduates to high-wage, high-demand careers in industries such as advanced manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, information technology, culinary and construction.

“Many persons looking to upskill have financial barriers to connecting with these programs, and Greater Dubuque Development has resources to eliminate those,” stated Nicolas Hockenberry, Director of Workforce Programming at GDDC.

“Through the Opportunity Dubuque program, Greater Dubuque Development will pay for certificate tuition and even provide supports for transportation and childcare. All this is to ensure our employers can successfully connect with a developing skilled workforce, and deliver on the promise that YOU can be great here.”


Last fiscal year (July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023), GDDC provided more than $171,000 in tuition support grants thanks to funding released from the City of Dubuque, Dubuque County and the DRA.

NICC College and Career Coach Marcus Ingles works closely with students enrolled in Opportunity Dubuque training programs to answer questions, identify financial support options if needed and help with job placement and career advancement. He recently worked with Austin Werner, a graduate of the Customer Service program. “When Austin first came to my office to discuss the class and tuition assistance options, he was very eager to enroll in our Customer Service program and enhance his skills. He had solid career goals in mind and was looking for an opportunity to achieve them. Fortunately, through our community partnerships, we were able to provide support to address program costs and he completed his training successfully,” Marcus said.

In 2019, the College and GDDC recognized a need to support student learning with childcare assistance. The College provides childcare at no cost to Dubuque-area students enrolled in Opportunity Dubuque training, providing them with the necessary support to focus on their studies without worrying about their children's well-being. To provide wrap-around support, fulltime employed graduates of these programs could also receive additional childcare assistance for up to 12 months.

The continued partnership with GDDC and other agencies ensures that skills gap analysis is reviewed annually, gaps are identified and informed decisions are made on future certification training needed in the area. The College and GDDC are committed to ensuring community members can be great through Opportunity Dubuque. / 844.642.2338, ext. 1399 5
Learn More. caret-right

Successful Strategic Planning: Metrix Company Teams up with CIRAS and NICC

Grow and develop your leadership team through NICC and its training resource partners.


The Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), in partnership with Northeast Iowa Community College, provided guidance to The Metrix Company of Dubuque on their strategic planning process and leadership coaching. The Metrix Company is a medical equipment manufacturer celebrating 60 years in operation in 2024.

Connecting local industry to the experts and training resources they need is the focus of customized training through NICC Business and Community Solutions. Greg Willging, Director of Economic Services for NICC, received the initial contact from Metrix and reached out to CIRAS.

“I knew what type of training Metrix was looking for and that CIRAS was the right fit for the company’s needs,” Greg said. “We have partnered with CIRAS for many years and know how strong their training depth is in the area of strategic guidance.”

Starting in March 2023, CIRAS consultants helped align Metrix’s leadership team with the vision for the company’s future and implementation plan. A partner in training and research with NICC for decades, CIRAS is part of the College of Engineering and the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations (EDIR) at Iowa State University.

“The Metrix Company partnered with CIRAS, with the assistance of Northeast Iowa Community College, for strategic guidance and coaching, resulting in a united management team actively pursuing the company’s vision. Metrix anticipates a financial impact of more than $500,000,” said Mike O’Donnell, CIRAS Director.

Metrix immersed its leadership team in a comprehensive two-day retreat and ongoing coaching sessions. From April to June 2023, with the guidance of CIRAS Strategic Advisor Joy Donald, the company now boasts a newly formed and cohesive management team actively working towards the realization of the company's future vision.

Metrix believes the successful strategic planning and training, conducted in two major phases that conclude in 2024, will impact its organization for years to come. Metrix CEO Dan Schoen said, “The leadership team at The Metrix Company has a renewed energy and focus. CIRAS has facilitated our strategic process which has helped us become a more efficient and effective team.”

This success story underscores the transformative potential of strategic planning, showcasing how collaboration with CIRAS, and partnership with NICC, can pave the way for sustainable growth and innovation within Iowa's business landscape. / 844.642.2338, ext. 1399 7

Check out the College’s summer camp options available for students K-6th grade at our center and campus locations.


Providing Accessible Education & Training to Local Communities

Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) has been dedicated to providing accessible and affordable education to the communities it serves. With center locations in Cresco, Dubuque, Manchester, Oelwein and Waukon and service outreach in New Hampton, the College offers students the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills to pursue their career goals.

One of the greatest strengths of these centers is their ability to operate as “mini-campuses” offering similar services as the Calmar and Peosta campuses, but in a more convenient and accessible location for the local community. Community members can take classes in a program of study, earn college credit in high school, complete the High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) and professional development, personal enrichment or recertification coursework close to home and work.

The centers assist students in their academic and career paths through dedicated College and Career Coaches. “Our College and Career Coach works from West Delaware High School and Maquoketa Valley High School each one day per week providing assistance with academic planning, career exploration, placement testing, mock interviewing and much more,” stated Jodi Ehlers, Manchester Center Director. The one-on-one guidance from College and Career Coaches makes a difference in students’ understanding of a career and whether it’s a good fit.

The NICC centers are all strong partners for local businesses and impact the local workforce, particularly in terms of providing technical skills training for students and employees. Welding and Certified Nurse Aide classes in Cresco, Dubuque, Oelwein, Manchester and Waukon give students hands-on training and work experience and prepare them for high-demand jobs locally. “In 2019 we established the Regional Welding Academy partnership with Allamakee Community School District, Allamakee County Economic Development and Tourism, NICC and local welding business partners. The students at the academy are gaining hands-on experience while working with local businesses and industry to complete real-life projects, which is preparing them to meet industry standards and succeed in their future careers,” explained Erica Nosbish, Waukon Center Director.

Likewise, the Regional Tech Complex in Oelwein gives students and businesses a unique training opportunity, stated Terri Rubner, RAMS/Oelwein Center Director. “The facility is state-of-the-art with trainers, machines, 3D printers, lasers and welders to enhance technical skills for students, but also gives local employers the chance to provide training opportunities to develop the talent of current and prospective employees.”

The College’s commitment to providing education and training opportunities to communities is further evidenced by its partnerships with nonprofit organizations and local businesses that provide various services locally. The Success Team in Dubuque, led by NICC, utilizes an online referral system to make quick and easy connections for services needed amongst shared clients.

The College's commitment to providing accessible and affordable education to its communities is unwavering. When you walk into one of our center locations, you’ll find welcoming and friendly staff who work with you to achieve your education and career goals. / 844.642.2338, ext. 1399 9

Fulfilling Careers for All with Flourish

Every person deserves a job that makes them feel like they've accomplished something - a sense of fulfillment they can take home after a long day's work. However, those who have a disability aren't always given this opportunity because of the learning curve required to develop work skills needed in more specialized industries.

Northeast Iowa Community College is decreasing that learning curve thanks to the new Flourish Program.

“The idea came to me about certificate training programsthings like CNA programs, welding and all of those NICC offers,” Margee Woywood, Director of Mission Services at Goodwill Industries of Northeast Iowa, said. “I thought that if they were lengthened over more class periods and taught for shorter classes, with more support, someone with a mild disability could pass that course.”

Woywood wanted to help these individuals find more fulfilling careers and help area businesses fill open positions they may have. Her idea led to a discussion with NICC leaders and through their shared interests an outline of the Flourish program began to emerge.

Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Dubuque Community Schools were eventually brought on as partners with NICC and Goodwill Industries. Their goal was to help those with disabilities obtain better employment at a higher wage and have more fulfilling work.

“Typically, people with disabilities are thought of with service-type jobs," Woywood said, "so they get pigeon-holed into certain careers. I know those with disabilities have the same career goals that everyone else has.”

The biggest obstacle in the first cycle was identifying the students who would be good matches for the program and explaining how this would benefit them.

Currently, this program does have funding options available. Not only for education but transportation and childcare as well.

“As this program continues and grows,” Woywood said, “we may reach out to businesses for partnerships to specifically find people in their field and put some interns through the training program.”

Candidates for this program are anyone interested in career path training available through NICC with the basic aptitude and skills who need a little support. A new career outlook is now an option for all.

Those interested can contact any of the Flourish Program partners for more information.

10 SOLUTIONS MAGAZINE • VOL. 1 | ISSUE 3 / 844.642.2338, ext. 1399 11

At Northeast Iowa Community College, we believe the cost of education should not be a barrier to a student’s pursuit of a brighter future. You can invest in northeast Iowa’s future workforce with the NICC Foundation.

Support students today in pursuing an education at Northeast Iowa Community College by creating a business-sponsored scholarship.

Complete our business inquiry form today and a member of the Foundation team will guide you through the next steps.

Your gift, no matter the size, makes an impact.





Our Mission

The Northeast Iowa Community College Foundation is a trusted philanthropic partner creating opportunities for donors and communities to impact learner success.

Medical Associates


"At Medical Associates, we recognized the looming healthcare workforce shortage over a decade ago and partnered with Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) to launch the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Scholarship program. Our goal was to help grow the healthcare talent pipeline in the Dubuque area. Today, we remain committed to this goal and have expanded our scholarship support into critical areas like ultrasonography. We are proud of our past investment and remain dedicated to continuing our support of the next generation of healthcare talent."


Improving Immigrant Workers Skills in the Workplace

At Northeast Iowa Community College, we customize Integrated English Learning and Civics Education (IELCE) classes to help English Language Learners (ELL) improve their communication skills, employability and cultural awareness in the American workforce.

Our program meets local businesses and their ELL employees' unique needs, providing a curriculum covering basic skills such as math, reading and writing in English and specific language skills for their jobs.

Benefits to Local Businesses

+ Provided at no cost; businesses only need to pay for the employee's time in class

+ Learning happens at the job site

+ Customized to meet your business and your employees' needs

Benefits to Employees

+ Improved English language skills

+ Learn American workforce standards

+ Better prepared for career advancement

Call or email today for training options.

Katherine Baumhover

Adult Education & Literacy Director

844.642.2338, ext. 3134 / 844.642.2338, ext. 1399 13


Northeast Iowa Community College is ready and able to partner with local companies and organizations to host an upcoming training session, meeting or event. Our team provides a one-stop shop of customized services at the Wilder Business Center in Calmar, Town Clock Business Center in Dubuque and Conference Center in Peosta to make planning and hosting your next corporate event or meeting a success.

CIRCLE-CHECK Meeting and conference facilities with seating for 20 to 300

CIRCLE-CHECK State-of-the-art technology with on-site support, catering and other convenient services

CIRCLE-CHECK A coordinator works with you from start to finish to ensure your day runs smoothly

"Because of the technology and helpful staff at the Town Clock Business Center, DuMA’s board has been able to hold inclusive hybrid meetings that engage participants regardless of their ability to attend a meeting in person. This has been essential to the speed of our work and need for stakeholder input.”

P.O. Box 400 • Calmar, IA 52132 Business and Community Solutions
844.642.2338, ext. 1399 caret-right The Solutions You Need.
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