Big Sandy Community and Technical College President Dr. Devin Stephenson is shown with Donna McClure, field representative from Sen. Mitch McConnells office; Kathy Allen, executive director of the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce; and Regena Triplett-Jones, field representative from Sen. Rand Pauls office during a network luncheon at Peking restaurant on Tuesday, January 12. Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) was the keynote speaker during a network luncheon sponsored by the Floyd County Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, January 12 at Peking restaurant.

Im here to tell you the good news that higher education is thriving in Floyd and surrounding counties, said Dr. Stephenson. The future of our region depends upon our ability to be flexible and receptive to changes that keep our programs relevant to the industry sectors currently in our area and those who plan who invest in our region.

Since his arrival in June. Dr. Stephenson has the college functioning at a record level. Last year, the college received more than $2.2 million in funding from the Economic Development Agency to construct the states first Broadband Technology Center. That was coupled with an additional $1 million -- $500,000 each from the Appalachian Regional Commission and a Community Development Block Grant.

We will be on the frontlines of innovation and transformation in our region, he assured those in attendance. We expect nothing less because our students and you, our stakeholders, deserve nothing less.

Dr. Stephenson highlighted the strong working relationship with Floyd County Schools. The college and school district created one of the first early college academies in the state in 2012. Since its inception, 28 Floyd County students have graduated high school with an associate degree.
Those graduates have earned more than $2.5 million in scholarships, he added. Because of the partnership with Dr. [Henry] Webb and the school district, we have early college academies in four of the five counties we serve.

Currently, more than 100 students are enrolled in the colleges Early College Academy.

Think of the impact we are making by allowing these students the platform to earn a high school diploma and college degree simultaneously? he asked.

Dr. Stephenson said the importance of dialogue between chambers, their members and the college are critical in ensuring that our programs are relevant now and for years to come.