CCC unveils $10 million expansion of manufacturing, welding programs in Hastings

Bruce Bartos shows off the manufacturing lab at CCC in Hastings (NTV News)

Central Community College has unveiled a $10 million expansion of manufacturing and welding programs, saying it's driven by a mission to help local communities succeed.

Instructors hear it all the time.

Bruce Bartos said, “They come in here and go, 'we didn't know this existed.'”

Kids and parents don’t realize manufacturing careers are high tech, high paying, and in demand.

“They're looking for our students. They want 10 to 12 at a time, they're not looking for one or two. There's a lot of companies out there,” Bartos said.

College leaders have heard from employers who struggle to fill those positions.

“The number 1 issue out there is still workforce,” said CCC Foundation director Dean Moors.

Recognizing that, CCC is getting to work on this expansion of the advanced manufacturing program and also the welding program.

It includes a 17,000 square foot addition, with a 15,000 square foot renovation of their manufacturing and welding facility in Hastings at the Hamilton Building.

Campus President Bill Hitesman said, “We will be able to add additional stations and hopefully address the growth in that area.”

Moors said the idea is to "grow our own" workforce.

It's going to cost $10.3 million. Taxpayers are helping, as about half the money comes from the school budget.

The rest will come from donations, and they're almost there.

Moors, the foundation director, said, “We are within half a million of our goal of $5 million and have also received gifts towards our endowment fund.”

The goal is to build it without going into long term debt.

College President Dr. Matt Gotschall said, “We've also been building our reserves to help with major projects like this. But again it would not happen without the support of the community.”

As high schools like Grand Island and Sandy Creek expand their tech programs, this appears to be a natural extension.

Hitesman said, “By bringing in pathways, it gives them an exposure to it. I think in many cases parents are surprised as to the type of jobs, the cleanliness. It's not the job they used to think about.”

90 percent of CCC graduates stay in the area, and most in these programs have jobs months before they graduate.

Instructors like Bruce Bartos believe the expansion will lead more to these careers.

“It's amazing. It's very cool,” he said.

They hope to break ground at the end of summer, with the first phase of construction complete by the fall of 2019.

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