Anonymous donation of $ 100 million will fund construction of new vocational and technical education center in Kalamazoo County


KALAMAZOO, MI – Southwest Michigan First announced it has secured an anonymous donation of land along with a $ 100 million commitment to build a new vocational and technical education center.

The economic development organization announced the news on Friday, October 15.

“For years, educators and local employers have talked about the need for a centralized career and technical center in Kalamazoo County,” said Carla Sones, president and interim CEO of Southwest Michigan First. “This vision is now a big step forward in becoming a reality. “

Despite the pandemic, Kalamazoo RESA and Southwest Michigan First maintained their commitment to their vision and re-energized the partnership in May 2021. A world-class, central vocational and technical training center was determined to be a critical part of the overhaul. Kalamazoo County Vocational and Technical Education System (CTE). This public-private partnership began ahead of Kalamazoo RESA’s 2019 CTE mileage campaign, which received strong support from voters in Kalamazoo County in the November 2019 poll, Southwest Michigan First said.

The donors, who asked not to be named, have asked Southwest Michigan First to act as their representative in the transfer of goods and funds, the organization said.

“Today’s incredibly generous donation represents a transformative moment in Southwest Michigan’s economy,” Sones said. “Preparing young people to succeed in high-demand careers gives them access to opportunities and helps them live their lives to the fullest and contribute to the innovation that businesses in our region need to stay competitive on a global scale. With more students having access to the world-class CTE program, our region’s workforce can continue the cycle of growth necessary to make Southwest Michigan an attractive place for all to live, work and prosper. .

Over the summer, representatives from Southwest Michigan First and Kalamazoo RESA, along with local employers, other community organizations, school districts and partners formed a CTE steering committee to accelerate the overhaul. The steering committee reviewed, analyzed and approved a list of course recommendations to the KRESA Board of Education based on a robust labor market analysis conducted by the Upjohn Institute and the Youth Policy Lab at the University of Michigan, said Southwest Michigan First.

Currently, the facility design teams are providing information on the Career Center which will house equipment and courses to prepare students for future opportunities in the regional labor market. CTE course offerings at the planned Career Center will provide industry-recognized credentials, as well as develop essential 21st century skills in collaboration, communication, problem solving, critical thinking and self-management. .

The new facility, which is slated to open in fall 2024, will be built on the donated plot of land located along the I-94 corridor and Sprinkle Road adjacent to Wings Stadium. The facility’s central location next to a major highway and close to the county’s industrial base will increase accessibility through a county-wide transportation system and ensure equitable access to course offerings for all students in Kalamazoo County school districts – a commitment at the forefront of project planning.

Southwest Michigan First is an organization of privately funded economic development consultants who act as a catalyst for economic growth in Southwest Michigan.

The announcement of the giveaway is the third multi-million dollar donation announced in a year. Anonymous donations to the various entities total more than $ 1 billion.

In June, anonymous donors donated $ 550 million to Western Michigan University.

The city of Kalamazoo announced in August that its Foundation for Excellence has received a donation of $ 400 million, which will rise to $ 40 million per year over 10 years, and will be combined with the $ 100 million already raised. , for a total of $ 500 million.

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