Nebraska to get new $2.7M technical education center

June 13, 2017

WEST POINT, Neb. (AP) — A collaboration between a city and several educational institutions in northeast Nebraska has announced plans to build a $2.7 million training facility meant to expand career and technical education in the region.

The proposed 15,000-square-foot (1,394-square-meter) facility will be constructed near the Nielsen Community Center in West Point, the Norfolk Daily News ( ) reported. The goal is to establish unique career pathways for students in various fields, resulting in access to technical education not readily available in area high schools.

A report by the National Skills coalition, a nonprofit advocating for more investment in workers' skills, shows that Nebraska continues to experience a shortage of middle- and high-skill workers, making career and technical education more valuable.

Nielsen Foundation board member Clarence Mock announced a $1 million gift from the foundation to help build momentum. The rest of the funding will come from schools and other foundations.

"This is an extraordinary project — a shining example of what can be accomplished when people work together," he said.

The education center is expected to be ready by fall 2018. Up to six career pathways are anticipated to be available to students at the facility by fall 2019.

West Point Mayor Marlene Johnson signed a memorandum of understanding on Monday on behalf of the city. Other project partners include the Northeast Community College of Norfolk, Wayne State College, the City of Wayne and Educational Service Unit 2.

"We are committed to working with our partners to design the building to accommodate the latest technology for enhanced learning to include welding, manufacturing and technical education," Johnson said.

The partners are joined by six area school districts that make up the Pathways 2 Tomorrow consortium: Bancroft-Rosalie, Lyons-Decatur Northeast, Oakland-Craig, West Point-Beemer, Wisner-Pilger and Pender.

"This new facility will assist us in responding to the need to provide the career and technical education opportunities necessary to prepare a qualified workforce," said Michael Chipps, president of Northeast Community College.