Guest Opinions

It is imperative that voters approve the CWI plant levy on Nov. 6

A rendering of the new health science center proposed for the CWI campus.
A rendering of the new health science center proposed for the CWI campus. Courtesy CWI

When the voters created the College of Western Idaho a few years ago they made one of the best investments ever in the future of the Treasure Valley. Today more than 28,000 students are enrolled at CWI, making it one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the country.

Now the voters of Ada and Canyon counties have another opportunity to continue their wise investment in this game-changing college, which is preparing so many people for meaningful careers in our community.

CWI will be asking voters on Nov. 6 to approve a $39 million plant facilities levy to build a new health science building on its campus in Nampa. If approved, the levy will be combined with $10 million approved by the Idaho Legislature last session to make the building a reality.

This would be a good investment for voters because the demand for health care workers is one of the greatest needs in Idaho. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that employment for medical assistants will grow 29 percent; for registered nurses, 15 percent; and nursing assistants by 11 percent over the next eight years.

That compares to the projected growth of 7 percent for all other occupations.

It is imperative that voters approve this levy because the Legislature gave CWI one year to raise the balance of the construction money. If CWI does not reach the 55 percent approval of voters in November’s election, it is possible the state funding will go away.

We all know that the Treasure Valley’s population is growing and is projected to top 1 million residents over the next few years. Our residents will need quality and affordable health care as our community grows.

A new health sciences building will give CWI the state-of-the-art space to ensure that we have an adequate supply of highly trained and educated workers to serve this growing population.

Since its creation CWI has proven that it can deliver a quality education, at a reasonable price in an efficient and effective way. More than 90 percent of its career-technical students are placed in jobs after graduation.

Voters can be assured that CWI will continue this track record of using their tax dollars wisely if the health sciences building is approved. Let’s continue investing in the future of the Treasure Valley and the health of its citizens by approving this important levy.

Skip Oppenheimer is chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer Companies, founding chair and board member of Idaho Business for Education, former chair of the St. Luke’s Health System Board and served as the volunteer co-chair of the campaign to create the College of Western Idaho.