VC seeks $22M bond for Emerging Technologies Center
March 5, 2012 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated March 5, 2012 at 9:06 p.m.
Victoria College is asking taxpayers for $22 million to build an Emerging Technologies Center that would provide workforce and continuing education training for students.
The VC board unanimously approved, at a special meeting Monday, an order that puts the issuance of $22 million of bonds on the May 12 ballot.
The bonds would add about $30 per year in taxes to a $100,000 home.
"This provides an opportunity for people in our region to get a good job, not only today, but in the future. I think that's one of the obligations this board has to the community and to individualized citizens," said Board Chairman Ronald Walker.
The Emerging Technologies Center would provide customized training for new and existing businesses, like the collaboration VC has with Caterpillar and other area businesses. It would also be equipped to serve students seeking certificates and degrees in high-demand areas like oil and gas technicians, machinists and logistics and operations management, according to a presentation at the Monday meeting.
The center would include high-bay training, welding, computer labs and rapid response labs that can adjust to meet market needs. With a potential seating capacity of up to 400, it would also be equipped to accommodate large-scale training events and corporate conferences.
The facilities would be off-campus and provide a new home for all Workforce and Continuing Education programs, which frees up the landlocked campus space for academic programs, according to the presentation.
A planned 80,000-square-foot building would be designed to accommodate future growth and could take about a year-and-a-half to construct. VC does not have a design drawn up or a specific site in mind, but VC President Tom Butler said the ideal location would be close to campus and in an industrial location.
The pitch for the center comes after VC saw enrollment in its continuing education programs increase about 43 percent last school year compared to the previous year. The college's contract training courses increased 45 percent in the same time period.
"There's no doubt we'd be able to put this center to good use. The other side is if we had another large firm move to the area, we'd be hard pressed to meet their needs," Butler said. "The current need is there, and the anticipated future need is there to be addressed too."
The bond would support VC's master plan, approved by the board in January, that sets out a 10-year course for the college.
Ideas for the center came after college representatives, along with several business leaders in Victoria, visited Paducah, Ky., in late 2010.
Paducah is noted for its revitalization, and its community college boasts an emergency technology center that's worked with companies like Ford Motor, Quaker Oats and Pepsi.
"If they can do it, we can do it," Butler said.
"We can do it better," Trustee Robby Burdge said.
Scroll below to read tweets from the meeting.