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Real Commitment: Ensuring a strong economy through educational support

Mayor Steve Benjamin speaking at a luncheon.  "By supporting MTC, we all become more competitive."

“By supporting MTC, we all become more competitive." That's what Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin told more than 100 business leaders from industries such as banking, manufacturing, distribution, and information technology during a luncheon supporting Midlands Technical College.

The event brought together representatives from companies ranging from small to mid-size businesses, to regional firms, and large national corporations to talk together about how supporting MTC can help ensure a healthy, stable economy and strengthen our community’s business climate.

“We are in an enviable position to have MTC right here,” said Mayor Benjamin. “The college provides a talent infrastructure that has made us the envy of the world. We need to make sure we provide the balanced philanthropic support so that MTC can continue to make us all the more competitive.”

Midlands Technical College’s impact on the Midlands is significant and goes well beyond the 30,000 people it educates each year. The college employs more than 1,200 faculty and staff who live in and support the community.  Additionally, its economic impact through purchasing, spending, and construction in the community exceeds $100 million annually.

“Asking to invest in Midlands Technical College is the very best potential return on investment you can possibly make. Today, I ask that you have a renewed level of commitment to MTC,” said Mayor Benjamin. 

Lou Kennedy, CEO and Co-Owner of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, agrees. Her company partnered with MTC to fill a jobs gap, and Nephron’s machine tool employees worked alongside MTC students for a year at the Beltline Campus generating parts.  

“If you want to know how you can give back, MTC will sit down with you and find out how to best meet your goals, which will in turn benefit the community,” said Kennedy.

Lasenta Lewis-Ellis, President and CEO of LLE Construction Group, is an MTC alumna. When she was at MTC, she was a single mom living off of a single income. With the help of scholarships, she was able to pay for tuition, books, and even daycare at one point. She said nothing compares to the education she received from MTC.

“I think it is so important to continue giving to MTC because not everyone has the resources to go to school, especially resources they won’t have to pay back. Now, as the president of my own company, I am in a position to pay it forward and have started two scholarships for MTC students,” said Lewis-Ellis.

Ninety percent of MTC graduates live, work, and play in Fairfield, Lexington, and Richland counties. Their quality of life is greatly improved because their earning power is significantly increased due to the education, training, and skills gained as a result of attending MTC.

“The stories that were shared by MTC alumni verified the college truly is in the business of making lives better. MTC provides the resources for many people of all ages to gain the skills needed to secure career advancement or move on to new academic goals,” said MTC Foundation CEO Jack Hoekstra.

He continued, “The Foundation was pleased to have Mayor Benjamin share his support of the educational training that MTC performs for the Midlands community. It was insightful to hear his thoughts about what the vision for the future of Columbia looks like and how MTC can help in providing the training and skills necessary for so many.” 

To discuss how you can make a real impact as we train next workforce generation, contact Jack Hoekstra at or 803.732.5355.