As owners of Cool Stop, Esther Uwakwem and her daughter Stella saw a sweet opportunity to serve great ice cream and grow their business along the West Bellfort corridor. The duo watched the construction of the new Houston Community College (HCC) Brays Oaks Campus from the ground up.
“When we found out that HCC was moving in next door our hearts were filled with so much joy. We knew having HCC next to us meant our neighborhood was expanding and that meant success,” said Stella Uwakwem.
HCC officials, city and community leaders, along with residents, saw the new workforce building as an investment in a community, that according to the Brays Oaks Management District, is expected to see a six-percent population increase by 2019.
“One of our longtime goals was to get a community college to our area,” said Richard Rodriguez, executive director. “This district is dedicated to seeing the success of this facility.”
A year and a half later, the HCC Brays Oaks Campus on West Bellfort Avenue and Riceville School Road is a reality. More than 150 people packed the entrance of the 28,000 square-foot, LEED Silver Certified building to celebrate its official ribbon cutting. Attendees included HCC Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Adriana Tamez, District III; Trustee Dr. John P. Hansen, District VI; representatives from the offices of Congressman Al Green, (TX-9th District) and State Representative Dr. Alma Allen, District 131; State Representative Shawn Thierry, District 146; and members of the Houston City Council.
The City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department gave HCC a $700,000 Block grant to help fund the $12.4 million project.
“We needed this campus in this area and there was nothing going to stop us from making sure we were partners in this project,” said Houston City Council Member Larry Green, District K. “This will be the campus that the community built.”
The HCC Brays Oaks Campus will offer continuing education courses that support a curriculum of training in GED, ESL, information technology, and health education fast- track programs.
“We want to help students transition into a 21st Century college education,” said Dr. Cesar Maldonado, HCC chancellor. “Academics are critical to student success, but finding careers with job opportunities is what is going to bring success to families.”
Norman Mitchell had job creation in mind with his Bee Busy Wellness Center right next door. The Federally Qualified Health Center offers medical, dental and mental health services.
“We noticed a huge gap in services and access and felt this corridor is the perfect place to launch our business,” said Mitchell. “Our goal is to partner with HCC and hire individuals who graduate from this institution.”
To learn more about programs offered at HCC visit hccs.edu/programs.