State Fair Community College is waiting for the Boonville City Council to decide whether they will help fund half of the $3 million dollar expansion of the college into the now vacant Science Hall on the Kemper Campus. Dr. James Gann presented a comprehensive plan, which detailed the expansion details during the Boonville City Council work session meeting Monday evening.
The expansion proposal includes renovating Science Hall to accommodate new information technology classes. These classes will be handled by State Fair, which will prepare students for entry level jobs in the IT world within the Central Missouri region.
Gann said with the decreasing job market in manufacturing and the increasing market in IT jobs he explained that these jobs are ever expanding in Columbia and there is an ever growing vacancy there as well. He said there are 250 jobs open right now in the IT field alone and the problem is that there is not enough people in the area to fill these jobs at the moment.
"Companies are trying to fill these positions as fast as they can," Gann said. "What the tech jobs want are certificates of performance. We need the capacity to offer these certificate programs."
He expanded on that Boonville already has the infrastructure needed to tackle a project such as this, including the much needed fiber optic cables.
According to a Septagon estimates. the project is projected to cost $3 million dollars and may not be completed until the fall of 2014. The city would be responsible for half of the funds along with a possible grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA).
In part for the pitch to the EDA is the ability for the project to accommodate growing trends.
"For example, if all the IT jobs were filled tomorrow, we could transition our space to accommodate, lets say pipe welders. We are proposing it to be generic where it could pivot quickly to any issue that arises," Gann said. "We will be using the money to be an economic catalyst for the region. I think we have the opportunity to make this happen."
Since the grant application to the EDA is due by June 7, the council will vote on Monday if they wish to go ahead with this proposal.