Orange Beach, Ala. — Online education is a hot topic on the Alabama Gulf Coast. The City of Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and now the Alabama Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce are all adding online educational resources to their list of employee benefits. Each of these organizations has partnered with Columbia Southern University, a completely online university nestled in the heart of Orange Beach on Canal Road.

The Orange Beach Police Department and Orange Beach Fire and Rescue are also partners of this rapidly growing university. Over the past few years, more than 65 Alabama Gulf Coast residents have taken advantage of the accredited degree and certificate programs offered.

"The members of our community deserve every opportunity to receive an affordable, quality education," said Robert Mayes, Columbia Southern University President. "Our online programs and open enrollment are designed to fit the lifestyle of the working adult and make achieving educational goals realistic."

Employees of the 27-year-old Chamber are eligible to begin receiving several incentives from the university including tuition discounts and an application fee waiver. The Chamber will also be promoted on the university website, marketing materials, and at conferences and speaking engagements.

With more than 1,000 members, the Alabama Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce is funded totally by membership dues and revenue generated from special events such as the Annual National Shrimp Festival. Last year, some 300,000 people attended the two day festival featuring over 300 fine art, arts and crafts, retail marketplace and shrimp vendors.

"Our employees work hard to improve the communities we serve," said Mark Berson, President of the Alabama Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce. "In return, we want to make sure they have access to the educational resources they need to advance their careers."

Other Columbia Southern University partnerships include 16 corporations, 16 police departments, and 50 fire departments. Among these are Delta Air Lines, Boeing, and the New York Fire Department.

To learn more about Columbia Southern University partnerships, please visit http://www.columbiasouthern.edu/alliances/learningpartners.asp or contact Chantell Cooley, Vice President of Partnership Development at learningpartners@columbiasouthern.edu .

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