College president pitches support programs to business executives

There’s no reason to feel that you’re all alone when trying to solve business problems, says the president of Mt. Hood Community College. Take a look and learn more …

Laurie Larsen, with Compaction and Recycling Equipment, and Judy Kennedy, with Pacific Northwest Credit Union welcome members and guests to the monthly Parkrose Business Association meeting at the Holiday Inn – Airport banquet room.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A lighthearted group of business people got good, serious advice about how to learn more about business management – and heard from a Portland City Commissioner at the October meeting of the Parkrose Business Association (PBA).

After announcements, it was time for the monthly “Member Moment”, at this meeting, featuring Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

PBA’s president, Wayne Stoll, Century Associates, welcomes Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz to her “Member Moment” spot in the meeting.

“I’m your City Commissioner,” Fritz began. “I’m a member of four of the of the City’s 35 neighborhood business districts. I selected these associations because they asked me to join – and I’ve renewed my membership here in Parkrose.”

Amanda Fritz addresses PBA members during her Member Moment.

Fritz continued, “I ran on public financing – that’s why I say I’m your commissioner. I do feel my work is to represent you. I recognize that the government is you; it is all of us.”

During her remaining minutes, Fritz told about her duties, responsibilities, and triumphs, so far. (You can read a detailed, exclusive interview she gave to East Portland News by CLICKING HERE.)

The enthusiastic “Dr. Ski” – Dr. John Sygielski – president of Mt. Hood Community College – talks and moves quickly as he talks about the school.

Introducing Dr. Ski
After introducing three new PBA members (this business association continues to grow), PBA president Wayne Stoll introduced the month’s featured speaker, “Dr. Ski” – A/K/A Dr. John Sygielski – president of Mt. Hood Community College.

Warming up the group, Sygielski quizzed, “What is our mascot, and what are our sports team named?”  He answered question, “We are Saints, and our mascot is the St. Bernard.”

Serves a large, diverse population
Sygielski said 31,000 students went through their college last year. “Outstanding faculty members provide a great education. 46% of our students transfer to a higher institutions of learning, 39% of them graduate.”

Mt. Hood Community College isn’t an East County-only organization Sygielski said. “We also have the Bruning Center at Gresham Station, the Center for Advanced Learning, and the Maywood Park campus on NE 102nd Avenue at NE Prescott St.

On the western edge of Parkrose, Sygielski says Mt. Hood Community College maintains a full-service campus.

At the Maywood Park campus, Sygielski said the college serves more than 700 students, including business and community partners, and run several exciting programs, including:

  • Life Education for Adults at Parkrose – with the Maywood Park Campus and Parkrose High School offering classes to help graduates transition to new opportunities after high school;
  • Sustainable Building Adviser Program – a noncredit program for professionals who wish to create environmentally responsible and cost-effective buildings;
  • Workforce Training Classes – to assist community members affected by the economic downturn;
  • Community Skills Center – including a state-of-the-art computer lab, that permits students to register and begin classes anytime throughout the year.

Business people can get one-on-one help with business plans, Sygielski notes.

Offers help for business people and workforce training
Of special interest to business people, Sygielski noted was the college’s Small Business Development Center.

“If you need help writing a business or marketing plan, they can help,” advised Sygielski. The center provides free counseling and can hook you up with business professionals who will help you evaluate your plans.

To help young people be ready to enter the workforce, Sygielski says Mt. Hood has teamed up with Parkrose High School.

Parkrose School District superintendent, Dr. Karen Fischer Gray says “Ski” is a great “educational partner” with her schools.

“Since Ski came to the college, everything has changed.” Parkrose School District superintendent, Dr. Karen Fischer Gray spoke up. “We’ve been invited into their visioning process, we’ve created extended options and dual credit programs. We’re lucky to have him as an educational partner.”

Additionally, Sygielski noted, the college has become with the multi-district ACE Academy. “The average age of our students is 30, at Mt. Hood. We’re trying to bring in younger students, by sending our staff out to the schools.”

Offers business help in the community
“Small businesses are critical to the success of the area,” Sygielski went on. “How can we partner with you? Put on sessions?”

PBA members welcomed the suggestion, and offered to start a dialog with the college to develop programs such as a “Banking 101” seminar, given native languages; or a yearly business summit.

You’re sure to get a warm welcome when you visit the Parkrose Business Association.

Meet the PBA on November 19
One of our favorite business groups the PBA, gets together again on November 19 at 11:30 a.m. Guests are welcome.

This month their featured speaker is John Perkins, Architect. The Member The meeting is at Holiday Inn Airport, 8439 NE Columbia Blvd. (in the hotel building, around the back at the Flirt’s entrance – not the Convention Center next door.)

The meeting is free, and the buffet lunch is $17including dessert and gratuity; reservations are NOT required. For more information, see their web site:

Come this month and learn more about their Holiday Event, December 11 at The Grotto.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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