Democrat candidate Chet Culver says if elected governor, he’ll try to bankroll the state’s community colleges, in part, with an infusion of private sector dollars.

Culver proposes a new, $12.5 million state government “investment” in the state’s 15 area community college — if private-sector businesses come up with a matching amount. “With this new investment, we believe we could attract an additional $12.5 million dollars from these private companies,” Culver says. “That combined $25 million investment will allow Iowa’s community colleges and companies to partner in creating innovative, new skill-training programs for Iowa workers in every corner of our state.”

Culver spoke Thursday afternoon at the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees Conference in Mason City and said the state can become the bio-technology capitol of the world as long as colleges are preparing Iowa’s workforce for the jobs of the future. “With the right investment in our people, our technology and our education system we can create a…national laboratory for alternative energy and renewable fuels,” Culver said. “It cannot happen without a well-trained workforce ready to tackle the jobs of the future in Iowa.”

Culver also told the community college executives that community college tuition is too high and more financial aid must be extended to students. “These are not intended to be exclusive, expensive and hard-to-access colleges across our state,” Culver said.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle’s running mate, Bob Vander Plaats, is to speak to the community college trustees later tonight.