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Nebraska's Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education

Commission OKs Central CC project aimed at students in high-demand fields

The Coordinating Commission at its Aug. 11 meeting approved a building project at Central Community College’s Hastings campus that will allow the college to expand and meet the growing demands of area employers for skilled manufacturing and welding employees.

Central will construct a roughly 16,000-17,000 square feet addition to its Hamilton Building, as well as renovate about 14,500 square feet of the facility. The building currently houses the Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technology (AMDT) and Welding Technology programs. This project will allow both programs to dramatically increase the number of students they serve. The AMDT will expand from 44 to 64 work stations; the welding program from 33 to 56.

The Commission unanimously approved the project. The Commission is required by statute to review and approve or disapprove any capital construction project by public postsecondary institutions that use more than $2 million in taxpayer funds.

Longtime Commissioner Joyce Simmons said it was one of the best proposals she has seen in terms of the college working in conjunction with Hastings area businesses and school districts.

“All in all, this is a very good project,” Simmons said.

Enrollment in the AMDT program at the Hastings campus has steadily increased during the last five years, going from 37 to 69 students. Enrollment in the welding program has remained steady at around 60-65 students. Both programs anticipate a rise in enrollment thanks to several area high schools launching “Career Pathways,” which allow 11th- and 12th-graders to earn a certificate from Central in a number of career and technical fields – including AMDT and welding. Those students who earn 12 credits while in high school through Career Pathways are awarded a scholarship to Central for 12 more upon graduation.

“What you’re doing with the high schools is great – you’re getting these kids on track early and excited,” said Commissioner Mary Lauritzen.

The college estimates the project will cost about $10.3 million, with capital improvement property tax levy funds paying for $7.3 million and private donations paying for the remaining $3 million.