The partnership between Isothermal Community College and the Tryon International Equestrian Center is giving new life to the southwest region of our state – an area which was devastated by the recession – by creating new areas of opportunity for its citizens.
When Tryon International Equestrian Center opened in 2014, the Center and Isothermal Community College immediately embraced a partnership. President Walter Dalton notes that both share the same mission of serving the community college and building the economy. From the start, many of the 600 construction workers who were building the facility and working at the center were Isothermal students.
A massive complex that feature the largest covered arena in North America, a 5,000-seat outdoor arena, 800 stables, four restaurants, and plans for two luxury hotels, Tryon International Equestrian Center is an incubator for student success. In response to this new industry in their back yard, Isothermal Community College has begun an Agribusiness Institute and a Hospitality Institute. With support from Tryon and others, Isothermal secured a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to fuel and accelerate these institutes.
The arrival of Tryon has created a demand for qualified equestrian grooms so Isothermal began working with Groom Elite, the organization that sets the training and certification standard in the horse racing industry. The first class of 18 students graduated recently and was honored at a ceremony during one of Tryon’s premiere events. All of those graduates who were seeking employment in the field have gotten jobs.
Tryon also supported Isothermal in its application for a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration for construction of a new Comprehensive Applied Sciences and Technology Center. Isothermal received more than $2 million in EDA funds for the center which is projected to generate 500 jobs.
To further solidify the partnership, Tryon International Equestrian Center provides sponsorships for campus events; the company’s officials serve on the college’s advisory committees; and its personnel participate in various campus programs. Tryon also hosts an apprenticeship program at its facilities for students in the Agribusiness and Hospitality institutes.
Tryon International Equestrian Center and Isothermal Community College’s collaborative efforts have resulted in significant benefits to the community, to economic development and to the citizens of the region. Their successes are the result of open and active communication between these two partners. Communication which leads to innovative ideas, which are met with a flexibility and responsiveness that puts ideas into practice.