Community Assessment: Community College

The Community Assessment is a critical step in understanding the Cheyenne area’s position and the issues that it faces in an increasingly competitive environment for new jobs, talent, and corporate investment. Below is just a segment from the full Community Assessment report.

Public Education: Developing The Future Workforce

Given the well-established importance of a highly educated and talented workforce, any community engaged in a holistic community and economic development effort must ensure that it is producing and retaining its own “homegrown talent.” Increasingly, high-performing communities are embracing “collective impact” models in order to work collaboratively and ensure that the various systems, institutions, and service providers that are involved in educating citizens from “cradle to career” are strong and well-aligned. When education leaders were engaged, they expressed the need for more collaboration and cooperation within Greater Cheyenne’s educational network, between the education community and the business community, and between the education community and nonprofits. While there are several ongoing programs throughout the area focused on specific issues like apprenticeship, career guidance, workforce training program design, and much more, some stakeholders expressed concerns of potential duplication of efforts and/or inefficiency of resource allocation.

Laramie County Community College (LCCC) is the primary institution of higher education in Greater Cheyenne and unquestionably a major asset. Offering 76 associate degree programs and several certificate programs, LCCC not only provides post-high school training opportunities for Greater Cheyenne youth, but it also works closely with firms as needed to design workforce training programs. LCCC received many positive comments from various stakeholders and survey respondents. One respondent noted that “LCCC does very well in offering classes and has done an excellent job of training students for specific industries as needed.“ Another stated that “LCCC is amazing and all kids should have more incentive to go there before leaving for out of state colleges.” Still, there is interest in locating a satellite campus of University of Wyoming to Cheyenne, principally to support four-year and/or advanced degree demand. Currently, the closest university, the University of Wyoming in Laramie, is about an hour drive from Cheyenne. Some stakeholders would like students to have the opportunity to stay home to further their college career and believe that Greater Cheyenne would have a greater ability to retain and attract talent with a four-year institution.

As shown in Figure 17, even without a university located in the area, Greater Cheyenne has an impressive number of students enrolled at LCCC for a community of its size. LCCC enrolled over 4,000 students and awarded over 800 degrees and certificates in 2016. When scaled by population, Greater Cheyenne has 42 students for every 1,000 residents, greater than all three comparison communities except Weld County, which is home to three institutions, including the University of Northern Colorado. In terms of awarded degrees and certificates, Greater Cheyenne surpasses Minnehaha County and Yellowstone County, is on par with the state, and is only slightly below Weld County in pre-baccalaureate certificates. When all degrees are taken into account, Greater Cheyenne understandably lags behind all comparison geographies. However, when comparing only associate degrees per 1,000 residents, Greater Cheyenne outshines all comparison geographies, with 3.7 associate degrees awarded per every 1,000 residents. This immense level of degree output is reflected in the data covering educational attainment of adults, where the Greater Cheyenne area has a relatively large portion of its population with some college or an Associate’s degree.

Rachel Girt