|Members of the Moroccan delegation and officials from Snap-On and NC3 stop for a photo in the Snap-On Innovation Center at Shoreline Community College. More photos
University and government officials from Morocco got a good look at the interplay between education, government and industry in the U.S. during a three-day visit to Shoreline Community College, nearby cities and local businesses.
“My sense is that it was a very productive visit,” said Susan Hoyne, Dean of Science at Shoreline. “With the help of our partners, we were able to show how public higher education, government and business work together to meet needs.”
The group, from Oujda in eastern Morocco, included elected officials, business owners and directors and faculty from the university in the city, Universite’ Mohammed I Oujda, and the university’s technology institute, Ecole Supeieure de Technologie (EST). Also accompanying the group were representatives from Snap-On Corp. in Morocco and North Africa and the U.S.-based National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3). Shoreline President Lee Lambert is board chair of NC3.
“We understand the need to tie education to employment,” said Moulay Hafid Kanzi Belghiti, general manager of an engineering and distribution firm in Casablanca. Belghiti also served as primary translator for the group who were more comfortable speaking French. “Now we need to see how it is done.”
After introductions and a roundtable discussion with the college, Snap-On and NC3 on Monday, the group went to Shoreline City Hall for a presentation by City Economic Development Director Dan Eernissee.
“We’re working closely with the college on a strategy of place-making,” Eernissee told the group. “We’re moving the city from a place you drive through to a place you don’t want to leave.”
Eernissee outlined two specific programs with the help of Mark McVeety and Tony Doupe from the college.
McVeety teaches a business class and delivers a program called the Business Accelerator under a contract between the college and the city. “The idea is to offer high-quality information to business owners, but really anyone, about how they can do their business better,” McVeety said. The program offers free one-on-one business counseling, business mentoring and business plan development. It also offers weekly workshops on various business-related topics.
The city is also working with the film and drama program at the college, which is under Doupe’s direction. The partnership has already opened a film office on the campus to help bring film-industry work to the city and the college. The effort has had some early success. “Our goal is to become Hollywood North,” Eernissee said.
Doupe added that Shoreline can be a strong draw. “The city and college offer wonderful filming locations such as parks, streets and neighborhoods,” Doupe said. “The city is making it easier and less expensive to have access to those locations, which brings film companies and sales tax revenue they bring. The benefit for the college is that our students then get access to work on those films, which makes our program more attractive to more students.”
A member of the Moroccan group, Fatima Zahra Zahroudi, Ph.D., asked why Eernissee picked the film program. Zahroudi is a faculty member and helping to build a program in mechatronics at EST, the technology institute.
“First, it was just looking to see what strengths the college had, and then matching those with what the city could offer,” Eernissee said. “It wasn’t just luck, we looked to see what each of us ha and how we could build on those things.”
From Shoreline, the group went to Lynnwood City Hall to hear about how government infrastructure can support economic development. Lynnwood Mayor Don Gough said that despite encompassing just 8 square miles and with 36,000 residents, the city also accounts for $1 billion a year in retail sales tax.
“We take advantage of being at the crossroads of I-5 and I-405,” said Lynnwood Public Facilities Director Bill Franz, who also showed the group the city’s state-of-the-art traffic control system. “We have about a million cars a week on Lynnwood’s streets.”
On Tuesday, the group toured the automotive, manufacturing and clean energy programs on Shoreline’s campus before heading off for tours of the Lynnwood Honda dealership and the Museum of Flight at Paine Field in Everett.
From Shoreline, the group was scheduled to leave Feb. 13 for Gateway Community College before returning to Morocco.