East Central College has been awarded a $1 million zero-interest loan through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program.
The funds will be used to offset costs associated with renovations to a property ECC purchased in 2015 that will house a Business and Industry Center. The Center will bring under one roof East Central’s advanced manufacturing programs which include Industrial Engineering Technology and Industrial Maintenance, Precision Machining, and Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning/Refrigeration. ECC’s Center for Workforce Development will also occupy the facility.
The REDLG program provides funding to rural projects through eligible local utility organizations across the nation. Crawford Electric Cooperative, a not-for-profit, member-owned electric utility, serves as the intermediary for this Rural Economic Development loan.
As part of a national competition for USDA loan funds, ECC and Crawford Electric submitted a joint application to support creation of a facility for advanced manufacturing and workforce development. The REDLG program is designed to support projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. East Central College, as the ultimate recipient of the loan, will repay Crawford Electric directly.
“East Central College’s project was a perfect partner for us to facilitate financing through USDA,” said Tony Mallory, Crawford Electric Cooperative’s CEO/general manager. “As a rural electric co-op, we’re well acquainted with the benefits of working together to enhance the quality of life in our area. Our commitment to our wider community includes support for education and training that will spur economic development.”
When completed this September, the Business and Industry Center will total 28,388 square feet. The facility will allow ECC to expand the Industrial Engineering Technology and Precision Machining programs which are currently housed in space ECC leases in Washington. The HVAC program will relocate from the main campus, and a lab will be set up for short-term welding classes. The college paid $1.2 million for the facility and is spending another $3.8 million to renovate and expand the building.
According to ECC President Jon Bauer, “Partnering with Crawford Electric is an important piece in making this project possible. We were fortunate to be awarded a $1.2 million Economic Development Administration grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce as well as up to $600,000 in tax credits from the Missouri Development Finance Board.” Bauer noted that the East Central College Foundation also has a capital campaign underway to raise funds with the goal of transforming the building into a first class center for workforce training.
“This project is a prime example of partnerships between key stakeholders,” stated Bauer. “Funding includes college, state, federal, and private dollars. All of these resources are being directed toward a facility that will train people for jobs right here in our region.”
Crawford Electric Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy, a national alliance of locally owned, community-minded electric co-ops with high standards of service. Crawford Electric serves almost 20,000 meters along more than 3,300 miles of distribution lines in Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Washington and Dent counties. This is the first Rural Economic Development loan the co-op has facilitated.