Sedalia, Missouri – State Fair Community College celebrated #GivingTuesday (Dec. 3) by announcing the college, in a partnership with the city of Sedalia, has been awarded a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, as part of the Workforce Training Initiative. The ceremony featured a speech from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and concluded with the announcement of a significant donation from the family of the late Olen Howard. That donation, along with the CDBG grant, will help fund construction of the college’s new Workforce Innovation Center.
“We have to be able to prepare the workforce of tomorrow,” said Parson. “Because if we don’t do that, and we don’t take care of the infrastructure, no businesses are coming here, no businesses are expanding, and nobody is going to make those businesses more profitable, if we don’t make sure there is a workforce available for them.”
The college will build the new Workforce Innovation Center on the east side of the Sedalia campus, which was the original site of the college’s first building – “Plywood U.” The center will more than double the college’s capacity in precision machining and welding, and expand other programs such as industrial maintenance, robotics, logistics, leadership/supervisory skills, and apprenticeships.
“The State of Missouri is second in the United States of America when it comes to apprenticeships,” said Parson. “The job growth is close to 40,000 new employees who have went to work in a little over a year.”
In addition to the CDBG grant, the college has also received $250,000 in Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) tax credits, to help fund construction of the new center. During her comments, Dr. Anderson recognized the city officials, state senators and representatives who provided assistance in applying for the CDBG and NAP.
“Throughout our history, State Fair Community College has responded to workforce needs,” said Dr. Anderson. “Our first technical trades programs, automotive and welding, were started in 1971 with a state grant when Sedalia faced a workforce shortage of trained mechanics. Now, nearly 50 years later, we are responding to current state and local workforce demands.”
The Workforce Training Initiative helps provide quality job-training opportunities through non-profit organizations, local governments, community colleges, public technical colleges, and public universities. These programs will increase access to training to underserved areas and benefit 860 persons of low and moderate income.
“The Department of Economic Development is proud to partner with organizations that aid in preparing workers for the future,” Missouri Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon said. “With the state’s tight job market, it is important to find new ways to meet the need for trained workers.”
The center will be named the Olen Howard Workforce Training Center. Howard, a former Sedalia resident, was born in 1925 in Knobby, Missouri, in rural Benton County and graduated from Climax Springs High School in 1943. Howard and his brother, Marvin, started Howard Construction in 1945. He later started Howard Farms, Howard Quarries and Howard Ready Mix.
Joe Fischer, SFCC Foundation Board of Directors president, announced the generous donation as one of the largest in the foundation’s history and introduced Howard’s daughters, Darlene Bradbury and Shirley Rowden.
“We are so pleased and delighted with the opportunity to be a part of this building,” said Bradbury, a graduate of State Fair Community College and SFCC Foundation board member. “This college has always been very close to my heart.”
Following the ceremony, Anderson expressed her gratitude to Darlene and Shirley for their gift that honors their father, who was a humble, hardworking man. “Their gift will enable more students to learn technical skills that can open doors of opportunity and help prepare them for good paying jobs right here in our community.”
“He never wanted, or asked for recognition for contributions, or for lending a helping hand where needed,” said Rowden. “It gives us great pleasure to honor him with the naming of this Workforce Innovation Center. We are proud that, because of our father’s hard work, ingenuity, integrity, and generosity, we are able to give to the community in a way that will benefit so many.”
Construction of the Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center is scheduled to begin in 2020.