JANESVILLE, Wis. — The first step in creating a world-class advanced manufacturing region starts with creating a large talent pipeline. Thursday night, Feb. 21, Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) moved one step closer to making this idea a reality when the District Board voted unanimously to lease a 105,100-square-foot industrial facility in Milton, Wis., with the intent of converting it into a state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing Training Center.
Designed to host the latest technology, BTC plans for the new building to be open for the fall semester of 2014. The expansion would include moving Precision Machining (CNC), Industrial Maintenance, Electro-mechanical Technology (automated systems technician), Welding and Metal Fabrication initially, followed later by Computer Systems Technology, Industrial Engineer, Mechanical Design Technology, and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning/Refrigeration.
“The face of manufacturing is changing radically, and the need for highly trained technicians has never been more acute,” said Dr. Tom Eckert, BTC president. “At Blackhawk, we have peaked in our capacity to deliver instruction in most of our manufacturing programs. Developing an Advanced Manufacturing Training Center will provide us some much-needed space and, at the same time, help address the workforce gap.”
According to BTC officials, regional employers have expressed a critical need for more skilled workers in many areas, including CNC, electro-mechanical, industrial maintenance mechanics and welding, to name a few. Currently, BTC manufacturing programs are delivered at the central campus in Janesville, but the school has no capacity for expansion.
“We have been working for several months on an educational plan, space requirements and the architectural layout for the project,” added Eckert. “We feel this project is something both the region and the college need to provide a steady stream of highly qualified workers, now and in the future.”
BTC has been working with Plunkett Raysich Architects on the design of the new facility. Plunkett Raysich Architects is one of the largest full-service design firms in Wisconsin. Recently, the firm was honored by Corporate Report Wisconsin with the Best of Wisconsin Business award for their strength in architectural design.
The next step for the project is for the Wisconsin Technical College Board to approve the lease. Eckert said the lease will cost $155,125 in the first year at $1.48 per square foot. In year two, the rate increases to $2.88 per square foot, with annual increases limited to 2 percent thereafter. BTW would have options for two five-year extensions and the option to buy at any time.
Posted Feb. 27, 2013