Reprinted with permission by The Cullman Times
Dale Greer had been in the workforce 15 years when he made career change, a move that was accompanied by the courage to go back to college.
At first, Greer, who serves as director of the Cullman Economic Development Agency, was skeptical about returning to school. He had already attended college in Birmingham and had enjoyed a successful tenure as a reporter and editor at The Cullman Times. But enrolling in Wallace State Community College has proven to be a lifelong benefit as he looks back.
“I already thought I was intelligent and successful and didn’t need to go back to college, but I was moving to the (Cullman Area) Chamber of Commerce into a new role. I enrolled with the idea that I’ll get the piece of paper and nothing more. But I was surprised at what I learned, and I came to the realization that in life you’re always learning and making that move set me on a new path, not just a career path.”
Finding the classroom environment an invigorating experience, Greer earned an associate’s degree and then enrolled at Athens State for his business degree. He soon joined the City of Cullman’s economic development team and became part of one of the state’s most successful economies.
“I stayed involved with Wallace State through the Alumni Association and then the Future Foundation, which is something that opens a lot of doors for people that would otherwise remain closed,” Greer said.
“We have scholarships and second-chance scholarships and those help people to take a step up and more in life. It’s one of the most rewarding things I ever been involved in, because you see directly how education can change a person’s life.”
From being a student to becoming a leader in the Foundation and his experience in economic development, Greer has direct insight into the value of Wallace State when it comes to recruiting and expanding industries.
“Everything in economic development hinges on having a quality workforce. It’s like looking down a funnel. At the beginning a company may have 25 states or communities they are considering and they begin working down to the one that can provide key elements of their needs,” Greer said. “What you see at Wallace is not just programs, but the ability and the flexibility to offer specific training for an employer. That makes a difference when you have that kind of flexibility and show you are willing to do that for someone.”
Greer said Wallace State actively participates in key recruiting by providing instructors who can talk with potential industrial clients and understand and explain specific training.
“I always talk about Wallace State when a potential new industry is looking at our community,” Greer said. “Workforce development is a pivotal issue in being competitive and continuing to strengthen your economy. The flexibility and willingness of Wallace State to be a partner in the community is an advantage that is huge for us.”
The future with Wallace State is exciting from Greer’s perspective.
“I’m still amazed at how that experience of returning to college at Wallace was such a great time of learning and how it opened doors,” Greer said. “Whether you’re on an academic track or learning a skill or needing a certificate through additional training, I see an institution that has reached out deeply into the community and played a tremendous part in the success of Cullman County.”