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DeKalb County Economic Development Corp. event aims to connect schools, businesses

DeKALB – Charles Kaiser has not had difficulty attracting candidates for entry-level positions at National Bank & Trust Co. in Sycamore of late, but he wanted to know more about how Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College could help him find even more.

At an event hosted by the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp., Kaiser and others heard from leaders at NIU and Kishwaukee College about their various programs and resources that can help connect students with local businesses.

“With the economy the way it is and the opportunities for jobs out there, it was good to know what support local universities can give to us in the business world for both internships and for permanent jobs going forward,” said Kaiser, senior vice president at NB&T.

“There was a lot more available there that I was not aware of,” he said. “So it was good to have exposure to that information.”

DCEDC Executive Director Paul Borek said the event aimed to promote some of the resources at NIU and Kishwaukee College and highlight advantages that DeKalb County has based on its active partnerships with the schools.

“Our purpose for convening this business round-table discussion is to promote the resources and the university and the college and engage businesses in activities that can help them expand, recruit employees and create new products to enhance the economy,” Borek said.

During the event, several Kishwaukee College and NIU leaders spoke about some of the means available for hiring students and programs such as The Center for Business Development and Continuing Education at Kishwaukee College; and Springboard, NIU’s resource that connects businesses with services throughout the northern Illinois region

Thomas Choice, Kishwaukee College’s president, said the event was mutually beneficial. Workers at local businesses often take courses and use resources at the local schools, while students can gain employment at local businesses.

“We, to some extent, serve as a pipeline for their employees and we train people ... and that attracts students, as well,” Choice said.

“It’s a way to get out more information about our credit programs and some of the classes and certificates and degrees that we offer,” he said. “But that really is what we ought to be doing. We ought to be trying to be the community’s college.”

Among NIU’s programs and assets available to recruiters were College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, business management programs, accounting programs, information technology programs, while Kishwaukee College leaders put emphasis on such resources as the career and conference centers.

Jennifer Groce, NIU’s director of communiversity initiatives, said NIU wanted to enhance some of the existing partnerships and make local businesses aware of several programs that help to connect students with internships and jobs.

“I think this just creates an additional opportunity for our students to have meaningful connections with the business community and that just creates an enhanced opportunity for learning and for experiential opportunities,” she said. “So I think this is just a great continued opportunity for our students to learn that they have a vibrant opportunity for being part of a really intensive learning community here in the DeKalb area.”

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