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Student-housing at Northeast Iowa Community College to break transportation and distance barriers for students

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 9:20 PM CDT
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PEOSTA, Iowa (KCRG) - Alex Goerdt has been teaching graphic design at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Peosta for more than a year. His students come from all over.

“We have always been like a commuter college,” he mentioned. “I have students that come from Galena or a number of miles away.”

Goerdt said many students would find a great benefit in simply living closer to the campus.

“Students might travel here 30 or 45 miles just for a single class one day and being able to live on location and not having to spend gas money just to travel for one class or camp out here for the entire day, it might give them more of an opportunity to have the class, go to work and not have to spend their whole day on campus,” he explained.

Actually living on campus will become a reality for close to 200 students soon: construction workers are in the first days of putting up a $14 million student housing building.

The project is a result of a partnership between the city of Peosta, NICC, and College Suites LLC. NICC sold the land to the city of Peosta last year, who, in turn, passed the space on to College Suites LLC.

Kristi Strief, NICC’s director of enrollment operations, said they have always wondered if not having on-site housing was a limitation for students.

“Unofficially, we had always heard from students that they love our campus, love our programs, but the competition for housing and the limited availability for housing has always been a barrier because, in the area, there are not a lot of housing opportunities and it is really competitive for just regular renters who want to live in the community,” she mentioned.

Through a survey, the school found out students were, in fact, very interested. Aside from helping students, Strief said this new addition will help them reach more people.

“We were only drawing from a radius of about 45 minutes to 60 minutes from campus and so our reach to more students is gonna be a huge benefit,” she said.

Strief added broadening their reach would, in turn, enhance their some of their offerings, like the gas utility program.

“We are the only one in our region who offers a gas utility program, so having this housing is going to allow us to go further and be able to fulfill the workforce demand in some communities that might be hours away and the training just is not near them,” she explained.

The new student housing building would not just benefit the college community, but also the city of Peosta itself.

“It changes the trajectory of our community entirely,” city administrator Whitney Baethke said. “Expanding and increasing NICC’s vitality and increasing their long-term perspectives by bringing campus housing for the first time is really also contributing to that workforce.”

Baethke added that, to have 200 additional residents of a demographic the city doesn’t currently have “is fantastic.”

“Anytime you can bring diversity of any elements into your community that is only a huge positive for everyone,” she commented. “So we really look forward to that youth, that vibrancy; again, what that means for our workforce is one thing, but what it means to the community is something also just as exciting.”

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