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Community colleges, small businesses gain attention

With more and more laid-off workers seeking retraining, North Carolina’s community college enrollment has grown by over 31,000 students since last fall. That’s roughly the size of the undergraduate and graduate student body at N.C. State University.

Acknowledging that unprecedented growth, legislators on Monday passed on first reading House Bill 1733 which appropriates $14 million to fund an enrollment growth reserve to assist the state’s community colleges. Note that this is a reserve fund. Senate Bill 1125,  introduced last week, would appropriate more than $85 million to fully fund enrollment growth at North Carolina’s 58 community colleges for the 2010-2011 academic year.) House Bill 1733 now heads to the appropriations committee.

House Bill 1735 also advanced on Monday. This bill would earmark $250,000 to continue and expand an Interactive 3-D Education Center at Fayetteville Technical Community College. The project is described as nation’s first interactive three-dimensional center offering modeling and simulation training and development for military and civilian applications.

The Committee on Commerce, Small Business, and Entrepreneurship is the next stop for House Bill 1721. The H.E.L.P. Small Business Act would among other things offer a $1,000 tax credit for each new full-time job created and maintained for at least three years. The legislation also sets aside $1,000,000 to expand access to capital for existing small businesses.

Coming up

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee convenes at 1:00pm to begin compiling the spending plans that the various subcommittees have drawn up. Senate Democrats are poised to pass their version of the budget adjustments by Thursday. The House convense at 3:00pm Tuesday.

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