Mountain Empire Community College

Among the biggest challenges an educational institution faces is keeping its students and faculty informed on what’s happening around campus. Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Va., met this challenge in the late-1990s by investing in a dynamic Time-O-Matic sign, which allowed the administration to display multiple messages to the entire campus every day. The sign served its purpose for 10 years, but in the summer of 2009, it was time for an upgrade and the college turned again to the company, now known as Watchfire. The Mountain Empire staff was pleased to learn Watchfire’s LED signs continued the tradition of excellence that had led them to invest in the company’s products a decade earlier.

Mountain Empire Director of Community Relations Sharon Fisher said that even in this age of new media, nothing reaches people like an electronic message center. “Even when we put information online, send emails and use print media, none of it ensures someone actually looks at it,” she said. “We can provide timely information to our students and employees with this sign. That’s its biggest advantage over other advertising media.”

Mountain Empire purchased the sign from Signs Unlimited, who was awarded the Virginia state bid, and who networked with Snyder Signs, a Watchfire dealer, to help with the sign’s installation. According to Mountain Empire IT Director Rick Campbell, “Within a few hours they had the old sign down and the new one installed. They really took care of business.”

Campbell had praise for his Watchfire representative as well. “After the installation, he came down and met with us for a training session on how to use the Ignite content management software, and that was extremely helpful.” The college primarily uses the sign to communicate information to students and faculty, but Campbell believes it could  become a valuable recruitment tool, too, given its location on U.S. 23. “It brings a great deal of visibility to the college,” he said. “It can be a draw for the school, for sure, if we do a good job of putting messages out there.”

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