Dear Editor:

I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work closely with Colorado Mountain College over the years. My company has helped build major parts of their Timberline campus. In addition, we were involved with a $10-million expansion to their Edwards campus and have done work with them in Breckenridge and Glenwood Springs.

I share this background because it has allowed me to see firsthand the power of communities partnering with Colorado Mountain College. As a small town, Salida has limited resources. Working with CMC will allow us to address a myriad of issues we are facing as a community. These issues include:

• The growth challenges we face in our schools and the resulting capacity constraints.

• The need to provide training that will translate into higher wages for area residents.

• Our rapidly increasing housing costs, which will be offset in part by an influx of higher-paying jobs.

• A tight labor market and the resulting challenges employers face in hiring qualified employees.

I see these issues come up on what seems like a daily basis. We employ about 70 people in the county directly. In addition, through hiring subcontractors and supplies we provide employment benefit to another 300 workers. Partnering with CMC will provide the resources to increase our skilled labor pool. Importantly, it will do so at a much lower price than other college options, making it much more affordable for students. Finally, this increase in higher-paying jobs will allow area workers the ability to afford to live long-term in our community.

For all these reasons I encourage you to vote yes on 5A. We have a real opportunity with a CMC partnership to solve many of the challenges we are facing by leveraging their resources and expertise.

John Diesslin, president,

Diesslin Structures Inc.