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Luncheon kicks off scholarship campaign

Olympic College held its ninth annual community luncheon on Monday, celebrating the school’s accomplishments while previewing several of its upcoming programs.

The event, with more than 380 attendees from the community, served as the kickoff for this year’s scholarship fundraising effort. While the exact amount was not available as of Monday afternoon, Board of Trustees Chair Pete Crane was optimistic, predicting it would exceed its stated $85,000 goal.

Corporate branding, a familiar concept in the business world, was given a community spin with the event’s keynote, delivered by Anthony’s Restaurants Vice President Tom Diller. Anthony’s, which is scheduled to open a new location on the Bremerton waterfront next spring, is an example of a local company that benefits from a strong community identity, or brand, he said, and as the company treats its employees well they become its ambassadors in the community.

Diller said such brand marketing not only works in the restaurant business; it can be important to something like a community college, or for the community as a whole.

“A strong community college can help to create a strong community brand,” he said. “It is where strong work ethics are developed. When local business leaders and private individuals support higher education they improve the overall value of the community.”

Diller said a community college teaches skills that elevate the community.

“Students can learn skills that increase the benefits of a community,” he said. “These include firefighters, mechanics, nurses and culinary workers. Higher education improves the regional economy, and provides great opportunities for local businesses. And when local business leaders and private individuals support higher education, they increase the value of the community.”

The attendees included a range of Kitsap dignitaries, including U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, all four Kitsap County mayors, North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen. Sheriff Steve Boyer, state legislators Sherry Appleton, Pat Lantz and Derek Kilmer and numerous other elected and appointed officials.

Donations raised provide the critical financial support for our students and programs in Kitsap and Mason counties for the 2005-2006 academic year.

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