Ed Meadows thinks Pensacolians sell themselves short. He became the president of Pensacola State College in 2008, after leaving the same post at a small college in Alabama.
“For people who have lived here all their lives, they seem to think that we’re stagnant and non-progressive,” he said. “I think that’s the furthest thing from the truth.”
“I think that Pensacola has a very large share of individuals and groups that want the same thing: They want life to be better.”
For this to happen, Meadows said, Pensacola must grow its workforce.
“The role of workforce development is very integral to us being competitive as a community when we’re looking to try to grow our economic base,” Meadows said.
“You have to import talent, or you have to develop talent. The college is interested in developing the programs to generate people that are trained for the jobs that are here, or the jobs that are going to be here.”
When Meadows took office four years ago, he commissioned a study to identify gaps in the local workforce. This led to new programs in veterinary science, healthcare management, graphic design and cyber security.
The college is preparing to undertake a similar study in the coming year.
“That will give us a better idea of what kind of workforce programs we need to continue to add,” Meadows said.
In the coming year, the school will also be looking to expand access to its programs through increasing distance learning and developing its satellite campuses.
“We’ve opened a center in Century and a new center in South Santa Rosa, so we’re working with those communities to see how to partner with them,” Meadows said.
Meadows’ work takes him off campus, as well. He chairs the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce Workforce Development Committee.
The committee brings together community stakeholders to focus on building a strong workforce.
He is involved with many other initiatives, so many that he has trouble recalling them all.
One he could recall was a “virtual business incubator.” The project, which is a partnership between Gulf Power and the Chamber of Commerce, provides business support and office space to Internet startups.
Meadows said the incubator is currently hosting four companies, one of which is about to graduate from the program.
Though Meadows is enthusiastic about the project, he said his primary passion is still higher education.
“My career is where my heart is,” he said, “and my heart is helping students.”