Fulton-Montgomery Community College celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, it should be noted the school has played an important - and unique - role in higher education in the area.
Looking ahead, FM will not only have to continue to foster the growth of young minds, it will likely have to play a larger role in nurturing economic development in Fulton and Montgomery counties.
From its humble beginnings in September 1964 - when it was housed in the old Johnstown High School building - the college has continued to grow and add more programs and technology. The curriculum has changed to meet the needs of students and employers over the years. Students have studied everything from leatherworking to nanotechnology at the college. Along with the curriculum, the college's facilities have evolved. From the media centers to the Clean Room, students have the equipment to work with to learn what is needed in many industries.
All of that education happens at a reasonable cost compared to many alternatives. The tuition for a full-time student at FM for 2013-14 is $3,598. Many schools charge students thousands more to learn the same material.
Getting students ready for a specific career will become even more important as the state eyes a new program, Start-UP NY. Formerly referred to as Tax-Free NY, the website for the program claims new or expanding businesses will be able to operate 100 percent tax-free for 10 years if those businesses move close to a State University of New York institution, such as FMCC. Up to 200,000 square feet surrounding a campus would be included in a tax-free zone.
While there are requirements companies would have to meet - such as creating and maintaining new jobs and being aligned with or furthering the academic mission of the campus, college or university sponsoring the tax-free zone - it's not hard to imagine how important FM could become to the economy of Fulton and Montgomery counties. Given the area's proximity to GlobalFoundries and Marcy Nanocenter at SUNY IT, the area around FM could emerge as a relatively low-cost alternative to other places in the Tech Valley.
Encouraging development undoubtedly will require FM to change even more - all without sacrificing its standing as an affordable school. Given what FM has been able to accomplish in the last 50 years, we are confident the faculty, staff and students are up to the task.