BTC looks at options for training center

August 21, 2012

From “BTC looks at options for training center” — Blackhawk Technical College officials are looking at “other possibilities” to build an advanced manufacturing center after meeting with representatives of the Hendricks Development Group Friday.

The plan was to locate the center at Beloit’s Ironworks Complex, and Blackhawk Technical College President Tom Eckert stressed that it doesn’t mean the center won’t end up there.

“We just want to explore other possibilities, and look to see what’s out there and exhaust all those other possibilities,” he said.

Eckert said the meeting with the Hendricks organization was “very positive” and both groups remain committed to creating a facility that works for the college.

“Hendricks was clear that whether the Ironworks or other locations are used wasn’t the main focus, but the important point was where we can build this training center,” he said.

Eckert said they haven’t begun to look at other locations, and are currently working on a more definitive plan.

Eckert also said he wouldn’t say whether the goal was to start the project in the spring.

“I would not say that the project is on hold,” he said. “We want to explore different possibilities just so that whatever we do we do it the right way.”

Rob Gerbitz, president and COO of Hendricks Development Group, also said the meeting with the college went well.

Gerbitz reiterated Eckert’s statement that the location of the center isn’t what is important at the moment.

“I think this is a large investment by the college and by everybody involved,” he said. “It really comes down to we want to make this facility and the most important thing is the education that will come from this facility.”

Eckert said last week the start of the renovations at the Ironworks building wouldn’t start until at least the spring because the college hadn’t raised enough funds.

About $10 million to $12 million needed to be raised to finance the renovations. Eckert said the college couldn’t afford to add the costs of the renovations to the lease, which is what the owner of a property normally does.

Instead the college attempted to raise the money needed for the renovations up front.

The center is needed in order to meet demand for some of the manufacturing programs the college offers. A third welding program section was added for this upcoming school year in order to lower the amount of students on the waiting list.

Eckert said welding classes will be held from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. at its central campus in Janseville.

“We have no doubt that if we build this facility and can make it come to pass we’re going to see more students apply,” he said.


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