Wednesday, July 19, 2017

State Board OKs Addition to CVTC River Falls Campus

Project addresses need to more space to meet area workforce needs

Article Photo - State Board OKs Addition to CVTC River Falls Campus

The Wisconsin Technical College System Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a $1.5 million addition to the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) campus at River Falls.

The Wisconsin Technical College System Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a $1.5 million addition to the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) campus at River Falls.

The project, along with future planned remodeling at the campus and partnership in the St. Croix Valley Business Incubation Center, is part of an overall effort by CVTC to meet the workforce needs of the region, according to CVTC Vice President of Operations Tom Huffcutt.

“We continually assess the needs of the River Falls community and the surrounding area and respond to those needs,” Huffcutt said. “The expansion project is to add capacity to better serve the needs of the community.”

Construction of the 7,200 sq. ft. addition will begin in March 2018, with completion the following August. The River Falls campus at 500 S. Wasson Lane is currently 20,000 sq. ft. The addition will mainly be on the north side, or front, of the building, with some construction taking place on the east side.

“We will be adding a second science lab, classrooms, assessment areas and more common area space for students to gather and study,” Huffcutt said. “We will also be adding some space for student services and faculty offices.”

In recent years, CVTC has added both programs and student enrollments at the River Falls campus. CVTC added Information Technology-Software Developer and Mobile Developer programs at the campus in 2015. This past academic year, CVTC began offering its first manufacturing program – Automation Engineering Technology – at the River Falls campus. A Residential Construction program was also re-started in 2015.

Enrollment at the campus was approximately 1,400 full and part-time students in 2016-17, up about 100 from the average over the previous five years.

“This project will help alleviate overcrowding at the campus. Right now we are flat-out bursting at the gills,” Huffcutt said. “This gives us the capacity to add more full-time equivalents.”

“There has been an upswing in student interest for technical education and CVTC is excited to offer quality programming,” said Shelly Olson, administrator of the CVTC River Falls campus. “The addition will allow us to expand our physical and life science courses as well as add programs to the campus. We are looking forward to working with area employers as we implement the additional programs and meet the needs of the region.”

CVTC Director of Facilities Rod Bagley said next spring is a good time to start the work.

“That’s the beginning of the next construction season, and it will be less disruptive to the students and staff to have most of the work take place through late spring and summer when the building is less busy,” Bagley said.

The project will take up some of the existing parking lot. “We will need to add additional spaces. We’re going to expand the lot to the north,” Bagley said.

Huffcutt noted that the expansion plan fits well with CVTC’s partnership with the city of River Falls, the River Falls EDC, and UW-River Falls in the St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center currently under construction. When completed, the facility will have space for a representative of CVTC’s Workforce Solutions team, which will be able to utilize the Innovation Center for delivering training programs directly to businesses in the area.

“It was hard to hold training classes at our campus, because we didn’t have the room,” Huffcutt said.

Future plans for CVTC involve a 4,700 sq. ft. remodeling project at the River Falls campus, along the east side of the building. That project is awaiting approval by the CVTC Board.

The WTCS board also approved a $1.5 million remodeling project at the Business Education Center in Eau Claire to accommodate a Culinary Arts and Management program to begin in 2018.