VC gives glimpse of 10-year master plan

Sept. 14, 2011 at 4:14 a.m.
Updated Sept. 15, 2011 at 4:15 a.m.

Members of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning got a sneak peak into what could be the future of Victoria College, which includes plans for a new 80,000-square-foot training facility.

Before VC President Tom Butler, speaking at the chamber's monthly breakfast, revealed bits of the college's 10-year master plan, he provided a glimpse at the college's growth.

Enrollment is up 5 percent from last year, at 4,562 students, he said.

But even more significant was the more than 40 percent increase in students taking part in VC's workforce training or continuing education programs, which last year served 6,753 students.

Butler said that's good news not only for the college, but also for Victoria's economy.

"The real power of our economic development is almost all of our students come from this area and almost all of our students stay in this area," he said.

The college is setting its sights on accommodating the area's changing industrial and business needs, which is where the 10-year master plan comes in.

Butler highlighted two parts of that vision: corporate training and conference accommodations, and a regional public service training facility.

The former is already under way, after VC realized it was having to turn away several requests from businesses to use its facilities for a corporate meeting space.

Hence, the Corporate Training Room. Housed in the school's academic building, the room offers tables and chairs to seat up to 48 people, with flat-screen televisions at every glance. It's open for reservations and is the current location of VC's board meetings.

The more ambitious project Butler presented was a business training center.

A layout of the 80,000-square-foot facility showed space for manufacturing, trucking, rapid response and welding training, among other things.

"We're getting huge demands for people who want welders, and we're not positioned to be able to deliver," Butler said.

The center, which Butler said he imagines being built off-campus, would provide space to train the types of workers specifically needed by area companies.

"When our economic development folks are bringing people to town, this will be their first stop," Butler said of the building.

Plans for a new training center are in the early stages.

So for the immediate future, Butler said VC is developing new curriculum consistent with the needs of area businesses that will hopefully earn the college grants to pursue its plans.

The prospects pleased Randy Vivian, president of the Chamber of Commerce.

"Anytime you can offer more services, you're going to get more business," he said.

Instead of Victorians being sent off to train for local jobs, Vivian said VC can continue to offer a low-cost education at home.

Vivian is also on board with the idea of attracting small corporate conferences to Victoria.

"Victoria could become known for that, especially with our strategic location," he said.



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