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Edison to begin providing classes in downtown Cape

By Staff | Jul 18, 2009

Edison State College will offer classes for Cape Coral residents at the downtown office of the Community Redevelopment Agency. Five classes are offered in August to provide Cape Coral residents with the opportunity to enhance their job skills.
According to John Jacobsen, executive director of the CRA, hundreds of residents have visited the Web site devoted to information about the classes. Opportunities to gain new skills is paramount to many residents getting a job in a market where the unemployment rate is 13 percent.
“Right now a lot of people are looking to find ways to re-enter the workforce and get additional job skills,” said Jacobsen.
Edison State will offer Accounting for Non-Accountants, American Sign Language for Beginners, Personal Fitness Trainer Certification, Spanish is Fun for Business, and Supervisory Skills for the First Time Supervisor in fall.
Classes will be held inside the CRA’s new 3,000 square-foot facility in Big John’s Plaza. The program isn’t offered online or distance learning; instead Jacobsen said space has been set aside for a full class with an instructor. Furthermore, students will pay regular Edison State College tuition to attend.
“When we moved to our new office we had a large meeting space and wanted to make sure it was used by clubs, organizations and schools,” said Jacobsen.
Florida Gulf Coast University’s Small Business Development Center also is slated to offer workshops and classes in the CRA building.
According to Jacobsen, Edison State College will expand its program with the CRA next spring to give residents the opportunity to earn a two-year associate’s degree without leaving the city.
In fact, a large portion of the student body and faculty at Edison live in Cape Coral, he said, therefore expanding the classes into a degree program could help the downtown economy.
“We have a lot of empty storefronts and if we can bring students or teachers down here that helps our mission of putting feet on the street which will help,” said Jacobsen.
The CRA later has plans to create public outdoor spaces near its office where students taking classes in downtown Cape Coral can study, drink a cup of coffee or converse.
Lee County School Board Member Robert Chilmonik is a part-time professor of Computer Science at Edison State College.
“Edison is a very solid organization that has been around for a long time providing services to our students,” said Chilmonik.
Edison is a commuter school without any dormitories or on-campus apartments. Chilmonik said that many students from Cape Coral have to cross the bridge everyday to attend classes, and bringing some opportunities to the city would help their own budgets.
“If you look at the number of students who have to cross the bridge every day, it is a good deal for our students who don’t have to travel so far. It is positive for the Cape and for the community,” he said.