Many local firms may not realize it, but Brigham Young University and Utah Valley Community College constitute "a vital link to the business community," say representatives of the two institutions.

UVCC President Kerry Romesburg and Fred Skousen, dean of BYU's Marriott School of Management, said the role of their respective schools differs somewhat, but both offer valuable resources to local businesses. Romesburg and Skousen made the remarks while speaking on the role of higher education in business during last week's Utah Valley Business and Industry Fair."A community college is exactly what it sounds like. It is a college of the community," Romesburg said. "It (UVCC) is responsive to the community."

UVCC offers specialized educational programs to meet the needs of local business and industry, which helps with local business retention, Romesburg said. In addition, both UVCC and BYU act as a magnet in attracting new firms to the area because of their educational potential in training needed employees.

While UVCC designs "custom-fit training" for local firms, BYU's Marriott School of Management helps firms tackle management or organizational projects they may not have the time or manpower to address.

With the continued growth of technical know-how and the increasing speed with which products are being developed and marketed, Skousen said, firms that wish to remain successful must have access to educational resources.

The Marriott School of Management places emphasis on ethical values, a strong work ethic and leadership and management skills. "Leadership is becoming the important factor in management organizations," Skousen said.

And in light of a growing worldwide free-market potential, he added, the global perspective students gain through the Marriott School of Management can make them especially valuable to companies with international markets.

UVCC, meanwhile, helps firms remain competitive, Romesburg said. To keep from falling behind competitors, many local business have taken advantage of UVCC programs tailored to offer training in such areas as computer applications, electronics, fabrication and welding, landscape maintenance and truck-body manufacturing.

"Those are the kinds of things a community college can offer business,"

he said.

In addition, UVCC has a successful cooperative-education program that gives students 20 hours of weekly on-the-job training, and the college offers one- and two-year programs in a variety of areas to meet local job demand.

"We can place our students. It's unbelievable the demand we have,"

Romesburg said. "We're trying to produce the students that business and industry in the area need."

UVCC and BYU make a large direct contribution to Utah Valley's economy.

UVCC, its students and employees, for example, contributed $56 million to the local economy last year - a $4.63 return for every $1 of state tax money invested in the college, Romesburg said.

"It's a good investment" that will become an even greater one as higher education adjusts to meet an increasing number of business needs, he said.