GOSHEN — The vision of a new, $14 million advanced manufacturing training center for Elkhart County took a large step forward Saturday morning following a meeting of the Elkhart County Council.
During Saturday’s meeting, council members voted unanimously in favor of allowing the Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission to provide $500,000 toward infrastructure improvements for the proposed center, which Ivy Tech Community College officials want to construct directly behind the current Ivy Tech Elkhart County campus on C.R. 18.
The vote follows a similar vote of approval by Redevelopment Commission members made during their October 2013 meeting.
During that meeting, representatives from Ivy Tech put together a presentation outlining the college’s plans for the new advanced manufacturing center while also explaining why the organization feels such a facility is necessary for the continued advancement of Elkhart County and the region.
According to Thomas Coley, chancellor of the Ivy Tech Community College North Central and Northwest regions, Elkhart County has approximately 2,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs, a statistic tied to a shortfall in workers with the necessary skills and technical training to fill those positions.
With manufacturing accounting for a significant percentage of both employment and earnings in Elkhart County, Coley said, it is vital that the county increase its number of graduates with manufacturing-related degrees and certificates. There is currently no stand-alone facility dedicated to advancing the manufacturing profession in northnentral Indiana.
That, he said, is where the new training center comes in.
The proposed 55,000-square-foot facility has been designed to facilitate hands-on training on the most up-to-date equipment available. Specific elements proposed for the new facility include:
• A lean principles-based 10,000 square foot flex lab utilizing cellular configurations;
• A 15,000-square-foot automotive and recreational vehicle center;
• Welding labs;
• HVAC training labs;
• Classrooms designed to facilitate collaborative learning;
• A digital library/resource room;