BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas -- A group of Brazos County business and community leaders Friday notified the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board of their intent to create a new community college district.

Established through the Research Valley Partnership, the Talent Pipeline Initiative Steering Committee’s purpose is to rapidly expand career and technical infrastructure and programs in Brazos County by examining all possible options, which may or may not include creating a new community college.

The Steering Committee’s Letter of Intent is required by Texas State Law under Title 19, Part 1, Chapter 8, Subchapter B, Rule 8.26, Tex. Admin.

Code, to notify the higher education governing body 90 days in advance of any request to create a new community college district.

The letter to the Coordinating Board contains assurances that should a new community college be established, existing operations would not be disrupted.

“Steering Committee representatives stressed that today’s letter simply preserves the option of creating a community college district while it seeks to explore a number of potential solutions to fill a gap between highly skilled and technical jobs and the infrastructure and programs to provide that education,” said Andrew Nelson, Steering Committee co-chairman.

The letter points to a projection from the State of Texas Demographer of a doubling in Brazos County’s population by 2050, exacerbating an already deficient technical workforce program that the area’s current and future employers require.

It also cites an economic report that found existing course offerings were not sufficient to meet 34 high-skill, high-growth targeted occupation programs.

“Compared to all other high growth regions of Texas, Brazos County is dramatically underserved by community college programs that could give our county a valuable technical workforce,” said Bobby Gutierrez, Steering Committee secretary. “To not pursue this as an option would be irresponsible to the citizens of Brazos County.” Gutierrez emphasized that among the Committee’s first steps was to explore cooperation with existing programs, such as those offered by Blinn College. “We appreciate and recognize Blinn College’s contribution to this community and our educational infrastructure, and we have asked Blinn to work with us to address the gap that we have in our workforce development needs. Great jobs are being created in this community; now we need great educational workforce training to ensure we can meet those opportunities,” he said. “It’s our sincere hope that Blinn College will recognize this need and work with us to rapidly expand career and technical infrastructure and programs in Brazos County,” Gutierrez added. “They have given us a proposal per our request and we will now evaluate that proposal.”