Posted in the Missourian Wednesday, March 16, 2016
By: Susan Miller, Missourian Staff Writer
The East Central College Foundation has kicked off its $1.2 million Building for Success campaign — An Initiative for Tomorrow’s Workforce.
The Foundation is raising money to help the college renovate the former Gala Center adjacent to its main campus in Union into a Business and Industry Center.
The center will house the precision machining, industrial engineering technology and HVAC programs. The Center for Workforce Development also will be located in the new center, which will allow for the expansion of training opportunities.
Additionally, there will be a welding lab in the building for noncredit training and support of other credit programs. The welding program will continue to be located at Four Rivers Career Center in Washington. It is a partner program offered between ECC and the career center.
“The Foundation’s mission is to support the growth and development of East Central College in whatever ways might be beneficial to our students, our staff and our facility and this campaign undoubtably does just that,” said Shannon Grus, executive director.
“This new training and workforce center in the heart of the county will create more economic opportunities for our students and our communities,” she said. “It will be the regional training provider for business and industry generating bottom up strategies to spur growth.”
Grus said gifts to the campaign will help build on the success of the college and allow for expansion of programs and offerings in the four technical fields, including evening and weekend opportunities, and offer the newest technology available.
“This region has a high concentration of manufacturers that continually need a skilled workforce,” she said. “Many more graduates are needed to meet the local and regional demand for workers and our new center will do just that.”
ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer said the college is at the beginning of an exciting chapter in its history.
“The purchase and renovation of this building will lead to a state-of-the-art facility that will support some of our most highly demanded career and technical programs,” he said. “Once complete, the facility will be a model for other institutions and will be the focal point of our work with businesses and industries in the region.
“As we prepare students for the workforce and help companies become more competitive through training of existing employees, this facility puts East Central College at the leading edge of workforce development in Missouri,” he added.
Bauer said the growth in jobs over the next several years, regionally, statewide and nationally, will take place primarily in technical careers that require an associate degree.
“We know from employers that a skilled workforce is the most critical need they face,” he said. “Our responsibility is to produce graduates who can meet this demand and contribute to raising the economic trajectory of our region.”
The original campaign goal was $600,000, but $1.2 million is the stretch goal since the project was approved to receive up to $600,000 in tax credits from the Missouri Development Finance Board to assist with fundraising efforts.
Grus said the tax credits are now available to individuals and corporations that contribute to the campaign.
Any taxpayer is entitled to the tax credits. Contributors will receive a 50 percent tax credit for their donation.
Donors also can make a one-time donation or pledge an amount to be paid over one to five years.
Grus said pledges, matching gifts from an employer, planned gifts, gifts in memory or in-kind donations will be accepted.
Capital donations of $1,000 or more will be recognized in a permanent location in the building.
“In addition to the naming opportunity for major gifts, the campaign has established additional contribution levels,” said Grus.
The campaign giving levels are $25,000 to $100,000, major gifts; $15,000 to $24,999, leadership gifts; $5,000 to $14,999, special gifts; and up to $4,999, general gifts.
All donations are tax deductible. The ECC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
The college purchased the 19,807,000-square-foot building in April 2015 for $1.2 million.
This month, college trustees awarded a $3,050,000 contract to K&S Association, St. Louis, for the renovation work.
Once completed, the center will total almost 22,000 square feet.
The renovation is being funded through the ECC Foundation’s capital campaign, as well as a $1.2 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce and institutional funding.
“For a minimal investment, the college will have a first-class center for technical education for the benefit of students and the greater community,” said Grus.
Bauer said the project is coming to fruition because of the partnership between the college, the state, the federal government and private contributions from businesses and individuals.
“This public-private collaboration is the hallmark of an engaged community college and is the linchpin to the success of this project,” he said.