The future of higher education at the lake is inching ever closer as Ozark Technical College continues its push to provide a campus in the area.

The future of higher education at the lake is inching ever closer as Ozark Technical College continues its push to provide a campus in the area.

At the June 18 Camdenton Board of Aldermen meeting, members of OTC brought forward information to provide the board as they continue to present their offering of a campus within the lake area. Hal Higdon, Ph.D., Ozarks Technical Community College President, was the main spokesman for the presentation and explained to the board the various benefits and statistics that OTC would provide to the area.

He began with information surrounding the desire to build a brand new, full service campus. In previous builds, the cost was near $13 million. He explained that building in other communities has led to other businesses and industries to come with it and enticed commerce to grow in those areas. He says that, for OTC, it seems that “money follows trust.”

Higdon went into further detail on the college’s history, stating that they had started the college on a shoestring budget and have continued to grow since. He says much of this success was based on the entrepreneurial spirit of the owners. The college currently has a AA+ bond rating and has increased revenue every year.

A benefit seen in other college towns is the growth of the community around the college as it grows. One way the college does this is by including classes that see a need in the area of completion. At the college’s Table Rock campus in Hollister, they completed a local survey with business and education leaders to see what these needs were and adapted as such. These classes would continue to be adopted as need be.

As for where the college would intend to build, it would be considered by a number of factors. It would of course have to first be located within whatever school districts are opted into the college. OTC would not be filled based on county. Also, Higdon says that they would prefer to build in a highway fronted area to better serve commute plans.

Higdon says that the Lake of the Ozarks area is an area that has been deemed underserved in secondary education, specifically in the trades. By building a local community college, he says it would take large strides in serving not only fresh graduates looking for an education that would get them into a trade job quickly, but also for unemployed adults looking for a change of career. They anticipate that the campus would serve around 800 students.

OTC is not the only community college in the race, however. State Fair is also in talks with the local school districts to devise a plan of their own. When asked by Camdenton R-III board member David Faiferlick about how OTC compares to what State Fair may offer, Higdon was upfront about State Fair being an equal in quality of education. However, he says that the benefit OTC holds is that they have immediate funds available to begin the project and a track record behind them to show their success.

According to information provided by OTC, the average community college tax levy they serve in is 30-40 cents, OTC already serves 200+ students from the lake area, a full-time student would save $1,500 a year with in-district tuition and property taxes on a $100,000 home would increase by $40 annually.