Salt Lake Community College feels it can be an even bigger asset to the state's economic development if it receives increased funding for job training.

"We feel we need a stronger role in economic development," Heber L. Hunt, SLCC vice president of business, told the college's Institutional Council on Wednesday.Hunt said this increased role could come from increasing the high-intensity, certificate-type courses for employees in certain occupations. These short-term, non-credit courses could meet the needs of companies such as American Express, McDonnell Douglas and others.

"It would be a shot in the arm for the economy of the state, if we could get funding for this," Hunt said.

President O.D. Carnahan said the state's research universities are always mentioned when higher education's role in industry is examined, but the community college, with its emphasis on vocational education, is also important in training Utah's pool of technically skilled employees.

"We are a vital part of the economy of this state, and we're going to do a better job of talking about that," he said.

The comments on economic development came during a report on the college's budget, which is being prepared. Hunt said the certificate training programs will be the school's top priority after those mandated by the State Board of Regents.

He listed the regents' priorities including mandated costs from inflationary and premium increases in employee benefit packages, utility and water costs, maintenance costs of new construction, salary increases and reimbursement for overhead and enrollment growth.

The individual needs of each school fall behind these systemwide priorities, so there may not be any money for them, he said.