SOUTH BEND — If the Indiana Commission for Higher Education approves the decision of the Ivy Tech Board of Trustees, a two-year nanotechnology program could begin in fall, 2011. Students who graduate from high school with a strong background in math and science can start a career in two years, earning $45,000 a year — it's how Dr. Jim Powell, dean of arts and sciences at Ivy Tech in South Bend, sees the benefits of a proposed nanotechnology associate's degree program. Powell and other deans from the community college are one step closer to making the associate's program a reality. Ivy Tech trustee's approved a proposal to create the program. "Nanotech will be important to South Bend, mostly with nanoelectronics," said Powell. If Indiana's Commission for Higher Education approves plans, Ivy Tech will be able to provide the local job market with a skilled workforce as early as fall, 2011. "Those industries are going to need very highly-skilled technicians in the nanotech area," said Powell. "So we're trying to respond with what we know will be job needs in the area." Leaders from the county, city and Notre Dame point to a success story in Albany, New York — community colleges there help develop a workforce. Research is conducted at the university, and companies are attracted to its industrial parks. "It's a process, and we are taking the necessary steps," said Phil D'Amico with the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce. He said some of the plans have already been placed in motion. Notre Dame is involved in nanotechnology research, Innovation Park serves as a business incubator, and IIgnition Park will one day house high-tech firms. D'Amico said if Ivy Tech's plans are approved, it could attract companies looking for a skilled workforce. "This is going to tell those businesses we've got individuals who can come right out with a two-year degree in the workforce and be prepared for nanotechnology-skilled jobs," said D'Amico. D'Amico added the graduates who would work as lab technicians play an important role to nanotechnology development. "For every person with a PhD, there are 17 people with a two-year degree or less," D'Amico said.