Business

New Premier Partnership with Brandman expands educational opportunities in the Inland Empire

October 13, 2016 by Cindy O'Dell
IERCC board member Doug Fleniken, Brandman University's Nick Lacy and IERCC CEO Edward Ornelas Jr.

IERCC board member Doug Fleniken, Brandman University’s Nick Lacy and IERCC CEO Edward Ornelas Jr.

Amazing. Value-added. Innovative. Those are just a few of the words Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce (IERCC) CEO Edward Ornelas used to describe his organization’s new partnership with Brandman University.

The Premier Partnership allows every member of IERCC and their employees to qualify for scholarships offered by Brandman University in programs as diverse as Brandman MyPath competency-based education to more traditional undergraduate and graduate degrees to technology training through the School of Extended Education.

The regional chamber members include Inland Empire organizations, chambers of commerce, cities and counties, some of which were already familiar with Brandman University.

“I came across the IERCC a few months ago and saw massive potential for how it could contribute to the mission and vision of Brandman,” said Nick Lacy, director of Competency Based Education and National Relations for the university. Lacy spearheaded the move to join the IERCC and then enlisted the help of representatives from all the Inland Empire campuses to help create a partnership program that would work for the university and the IERCC.

“We provide a value-add for their members and a value-add for the region in its entirety,” said Lacy.

“When Nick and his team shared this program with me, I was blown away. I am very excited to push this forward,” said Ornelas.

In addition to the educational benefit for the IERCC members, Ornelas sees another benefit for his organization. “It makes joining the chamber attractive because they can take advantage of the partnership,” he said.

IERCC logo

The Inland Empire comprises two counties – Riverside and San Bernardino – and 59 cities in Southern California.

He’s also appreciative of Brandman’s active participation. “Brandman just came on board a couple of months ago. They’ve been extremely proactive and taking advantage of their membership. When you have somebody who is active and sharing ideas and wanting to build programs, I love that. When Nick shares ideas, my own ideas go through the roof,” said Ornelas.

To get the word out, Lacy and other Brandman staff members will hold informational workshops, first at the Ontario campus on Nov. 2 and then at the Riverside campus on Nov. 3, for chamber members.

“I want an employer to go to the information session and say, ‘Wow, I can offer this to my employees?’” said Lacy. The partnership program covers nearly all of the degree programs and certifications offered through the university.

A recent Economic Forecast Conference held at the Riverside Convention Center included statistics showing that only 13 percent of adults in the Inland Empire have bachelor’s degrees compared to 20 to 25 percent in nearby regions. Nearly 35 percent, however, have some college or an associate degree, making them eligible for Brandman’s undergraduate programs. The region also has the 16th largest workforce in the nation.


Tere are the people from Brandman who helped develop the partnership with the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce:

  • Ontario: Dr. Felix Kalinski, Community and Corporate Relations (CCR) manager; Patrick Pierson, campus director
  • Riverside: Candice Carter, CCR manager; Shiela Bishop, CCR senior manager (also represents Yucaipa); Kristin Plapis, campus director
  • Menifee: Nicole Farnum, CCR manager; Miguel Aranda, campus director
  • Palm Desert: Annica Dawe, CCR manager; Cynthia Flores, campus director
  • Victorville: Athena Vernon, CCR manager; Susanne Eisenhart, campus director
  • Online / Brandman MyPath: Nick Lacy

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