CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte area offers a wide variety of higher education opportunities making it as important to the region as business and industry.
"Higher education in general represents the largest economic impact on a community next to jobs," explains Dr. Tony Zeiss, President of Central Piedmont Community College.
"We have a very well educated workforce in Charlotte. We bring a lot of young people to the city for education and they end up staying here," says Dr. Pamela Davies, President of Queens University of Charlotte.
University leaders believe the key to successful higher ed is meeting the needs of the community.
Dr. Jerry McGee, President of Wingate is the longest-serving university president in North Carolina. McGee credits community members for leading them to develop several successful programs.
"As a result of listening to the community we now have a school of pharmacy, we have a physicians assistant program, we have a nursing program, (we're) starting a physical therapy program," explains Dr. McGee.
"We bob and weave and we develop new programs as they are needed. We phase out programs as they are not needed because we want to stay on the cutting edge and provide jobs for our people," says Dr. Zeiss.
Students come to Charlotte from all over the country and around the world because of a great environment and quality of life.
"I think a lot of students are interested in Charlotte because they see it as a growing, vibrant, dynamic city but not an intimidating city," explains Dr. Davies.
Dr. McGee says Charlotte has a lot to offer. "The cultural activities, the opportunities for continuing education classes."
Many have seized those opportunities.
"We have a higher percentage of people with baccalaureate degrees and higher than most parts of the country," says Dr. Zeiss.
As long as the business community continues to communicate their needs educators say they will deliver the workforce Charlotte needs.
"We will be responsive. If we know there's a need not being met, a professional group overlooked in terms of education one of the institutions here or more than one will step forward and provide for those needs," says Dr. McGee.
Allowing Charlotte to maintain a competitive edge nationally and around the world.