North Central Michigan College has been named a finalist for an American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) award in the category of “Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership.”  AACC has selected North Central as a finalist based on the college’s longstanding partnership with Precision Edge Surgical Products.

In 2014, North Central launched a mobile digital fabrication lab, the “Fab Lab,” to increase the level of workforce training available to employees engaged in producing high-end medical cutting tools at regional Precision Edge Surgical Products locations.  North Central and Precision Edge quickly involved the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in a unique partnership that leveraged state support for the project once hiring targets at Precision Edge were achieved.  North Central bore costs to develop the program and its curriculum and worked closely with all partners to ensure curricula met industry needs. 

As Precision Edge’s production quotas increased and employees could not be released from work for additional training, North Central transitioned the Fab Lab from visiting Precision Edge locations to visiting high schools in Precision’s immediate area, targeting interested students with accelerated certificates in Computer-Numeric-Controlled (CNC) machining courses designed to help them enter the workforce sooner and to get Precision more trained employees faster.  Ultimately, hiring targets at Precision were met, and the State of Michigan released funds to compensate North Central for its role.  This project has since spawned additional manufacturing and grant collaborations between North Central and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB), among others.

AACC’s Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership Award honors “local, regional and national collaboration between a college and corporate partner that has achieved demonstrable, multi-year success in advancing the mission of the institution(s), the economic prosperity of a community, region or the nation, and the learning excellence of students,” according to AACC’s website.  Criteria used to evaluate partnerships include the following:

  • Promotes partnerships between college(s) and business and industry that advance the economic prosperity of the community/region and the competitiveness of the workforce
  • Demonstrates longstanding and measurable outcomes in advancing student success
  • Is characterized by innovative on-campus and workplace opportunities that engage students and employers
  • Provides and leverages resources available to college(s) and students
  • Closes the American skills gap

“The college’s collaborative relationship with Precision Edge is but one example of a ‘win-win’ community partnership,” said Dr. David Roland Finley, president of North Central.  “We are a college of and for the community, and together with our partners, we will continue to provide higher education that is exceptional, accessible and relevant.  This work will yield benefits in talent development for our area employers and, ultimately, contribute to the health of our region.”

Other finalists for the award include:

  • Central Arizona College for its partnership with Sundt Construction, Inc.
  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College for its partnership with American Crystal Sugar
  • Northeastern Technical College (South Carolina) for its partnership with Schaeffler Group USA Inc.
  • Rockland Community College (New York) for its partnership with T-SEC

The winner will be announced at the 2020 AACC annual convention, held March 28—30 in National Harbor, Maryland.

North Central Michigan College is an open-door community college based in Petoskey, with additional locations offering classes and services in Cheboygan and Gaylord. North Central’s mission is to provide educational, economic and cultural opportunities for student learning, personal growth and community improvement.  North Central is an Achieving the Dream Leader College with a designation of Veteran Friendly Gold by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.


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Megan Van Horn
Content Media Administrator