Tim Hunter

Tim Hunter: Local Manufacturing Needs Erie County Community College 

The community college would play a vital role in training skilled workers for Erie County manufacturing businesses.


As president and CEO of McInnes Rolled Rings in Erie, Tim Hunter sees manufacturers across the nation benefitting from business and educational partnerships. Now he’s working hard to make sure a similar approach is adopted right here in his hometown of Erie. 

Many of his company’s customers and competitors partner with their local community colleges to equip the workforce with the skills and training needed to compete in the 21st century. 

Meanwhile, Hunter says that Erie County businesses are falling behind as they deal with a growing skills gap. Hunter firmly believes that a community college would serve to meet the specific needs of employers through targeted curriculum and training programs. 

“It’s hard to describe the significance a community college could have on all our businesses,” said Hunter, who is also chairman of the Erie Community Foundation, a board member of the Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership and past chairman of the Manufacturer & Business Association. “There have been so many unfunded or underfunded initiatives developed to help fill these gaps over the past couple of decades, none of which has been transformational.

“The community college plan is the first significant funded initiative that has the ability to address this need at scale for the nearly 300,000 people in Erie County.

That’s why there is such a rallying behind it.”


Broad business support 

Indeed, two of Erie County’s three largest employers — Erie Insurance and UPMC Hamot — are among the many businesses backing the plan to establish a community college, which now is being reviewed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. The board is expected to make a decision later this year.

Hunter was one of several business leaders who spoke in favor of the community college during a public hearing in Erie convened by a special panel of the board in October.

Hunter told the panel that he wasn’t speaking on behalf of any other institution, but he did point out that many of his business counterparts support the proposal. The boards of the Erie Regional Manufacturer Partnership, the Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership and the Manufacturer & Business Association are among the many business-led organizations that have endorsed the community college.


Closing the skills gap

Hunter’s perspective comes with experience in the manufacturing sector for nearly 30 years. His company produces seamless rolled rings ranging from 4 inches to 144 inches in diameter in carbon, alloy and stainless steel for various industries.

He said the skills gap challenge for Erie County manufacturers is compounded when factoring in the advancing age of the workforce. The average age is 56, which is no small issue since manufacturers still represent more than 22,000 jobs and 25 percent of Gross Domestic Product in Erie County.

It’s easy to see a looming problem with an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 retirements in the coming decades, Hunter noted.

It’s also why manufacturers are rallying behind the effort. Hunter said that he and other manufactures travel often and see the difference that community colleges make when customers and competitors partner with them. The closest stand-alone community college is in Butler, about 100 miles south of Erie.

“With the community college, we finally have the unique opportunity to fill technical pathways at scale in Erie County,” Hunter said. “Businesses and the people of Erie County need this opportunity.”

Tim Hunter
McInnes Rolled Rings
Erie, PA

It's official: Board approv...

Posted on July 8th, 2020 at 7:33 AM
The State Board of Education votes 10 to 5 in favor of approving a community college for the county. 

Erie community college gets...

Posted on July 8th, 2020 at 7:13 AM
Victory for Erie County residents as the state Board of Educaion approves a new community college in the area. 

State Board approves Erie C...

Posted on June 12th, 2020 at 7:20 AM
Pennslyvania will build a community college for the first in more than 25 years. 

Pa.Board of Education appro...

Posted on June 11th, 2020 at 2:33 PM
Board of Education Approves Erie County's Community College Plan. 

Erie Chamber and Growth Par...

Posted on June 4th, 2020 at 10:07 PM
Erie Chamber and Growth Partnership Report #1 Recommendation - Brick & Mortar Public Community College

Our view: Community college...

Posted on April 23rd, 2020 at 3:40 PM
Our view: Community college vote long overdue In a letter to the Board of Education chairwoman, Karen Farmer White, the CommunityCollege Committee rightly noted that the econom...

Erie County Community Colle...

Posted on April 16th, 2020 at 10:45 AM
Community College: Now more than ever A message from Ron DiNicola of Empower Erie A few short weeks ago – although it feels like a lifetime – we were prepari...

Community Colleges Come thr...

Posted on April 15th, 2020 at 10:56 AM
Community Colleges Come through in Time of Crisis With “stay-at-home” orders across the country, community colleges have responded rapidly to deliver on their core ...

See All »