From thenorthwestern.com: “FVTC E-Seed entrepreneurship program gains national attention” — Fox Valley Technical College’s Venture Center has taken a bit of its own advice when it comes to helping entrepreneurs get started.

The Venture Center’s E-Seed course has helped entrepreneurs like Josh Beck get the business training and support they needed to turn their ideas into viable, growing enterprises.

Beck, who founded his 3-D printing business Beck Prototypes in May, said E-Seed’s 12-week entrepreneurship course has already helped him plan for slow, measured growth and careful planning as he gets started.

“I’m starting nice and slow, I’m getting some customers now and I’m going through the motions. Now, it’s about time to start some marketing and start trying to generate more revenue,” Beck said. “I wouldn’t have done this without E-Seed. E-Seed gives you the tools and shows you the door, but you have to learn from what they show you and walk through those doors when the opportunity arises.”

In the 13-plus years since it was founded, the Venture Center’s entrepreneur-education programs like E-Seed and, its bigger sister, the Pro-Seed business-model development program for established businesses, have helped entrepreneurs start 320 businesses that presently employ between 1,500 and 2,000 people throughout Northeast Wisconsin.

The success of courses like E-Seed and Pro-Seed have also earned the Venture Center one of seven $20,000 grants from Sam’s Club and the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship to help small, Main Street businesses reach the next level of sales.

Now, E-Seed itself has become the brand with an opportunity to grow and the Venture Center is the entrepreneur.

Amy Pietsch, the center’s director, said it has started to license the E-Seed curriculum and program to other community colleges, technical colleges and economic development agencies around the country as a way to foster more entrepreneurship and generate revenue for the center, which does not receive taxpayer dollars from FVTC.

Organizations can buy a license to offer the 12-week course to local business owners and entrepreneurs, but Pietsch said those groups are encouraged to share any improvements and innovations they make so as to improve the product.

“The one thing we knew about the entrepreneurship environment was we would be the little player in a big space. We had to be open to a lot of people coming back to us with ideas to make it better,” Pietsch said. “We do apply what we learn and teach here. We’re not making it up.”

The early response has been good. To date, FVTC spokesman Chris Jossart said, three community colleges in the Midwest and one entrepreneurial hub have already bought licenses to use E-Seed.

“It’s developed into such a proven product that’s simple yet personal,” Jossart said. “It’s always fresh, it’s always real and it makes very complex issues very simple.”

In addition, FVTC has reduced the cost of E-Seed by almost 50 percent, to $750, to make it more affordable for entrepreneurs to enroll.

Tina Schuelke said E-Seed has remained a key component in her small-business support network since she founded Change Management Communications Center last year. The training she got through E-Seed and the support of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Small Business Development Center recently helped her win a $5,000 prize in the Northeast Wisconsin Business Plan Competition.

“Once I got started with E-Seed, I realized all my attempts at business plans — and I thought I had a good one going into it — were weak. This gave me a really strong start,” Schuelke said. “This is my first business launch. Now that I have those courses as a foundation, I’m already thinking about other businesses I want to start or become a part of.”

From postcrescent.com: “Milestone reached in FVTC job search program” — APPLETON – The JobSeekers Network program at Fox Valley Technical College welcomed its 1,000th participant in November, making the free offering to the community one of the fastest-growing job search efforts in the Midwest.

JSN started as a support group at FVTC four years ago, and it has now grown into a curriculum-based job search program that teaches how to land a career using skilled networking practices and more.

The program also developed an optional textbook for participants and the community, the Human Search Engine, and its LinkedIn social media group has grown to more than 1,000 active members as well.

JSN if offered weekly at FVTC’s Appleton and Oshkosh campuses. For more information on the sessions, visit www.fvtc.edu/jsn.

 

From postcrescent.com: “Streetwise: Oshkosh growing out of the old Sawdust City image” — By Jeff Bollier – Oshkosh may have a ways to go before it competes with Silicon Valley, but the former center of the logging industry has quietly lumbered into the 21st century.

Companies like DealerFire, Oracular and ImproMed continue to add good-paying jobs while economic development agencies have sought ways to help bolster information technology as an industry in Oshkosh.

Meanwhile, Fox Valley Technical College has recently launched a partnership with Oshkosh North and West high schools that could help build interest — and necessary skill sets — in the IT field.

FVTC, North and West have established help desks staffed by students and monitored by FVTC mentors to help build an understanding of IT careers and the required skills. FVTC also has started to develop curriculum for the high schools that will allow interested students earn college credits while taking early courses vital to IT careers and courses of study.

These activities are the building blocks on which a successful industry can build for years to come. Let’s hope collaboration like this continues into the future and the vision comes to fruition.

• Oshkosh Corp. has been designated a Green Professional under the Wisconsin Sustainable Council’s Green Masters Program. The program recognizes companies that promote sustainability and healthy workplaces. In Oshkosh Corp.’s case, the council applauded the company’s increase in recycled materials, a reduction in items that end up in landfills and its wellness programs.

From fox11online.com: “New high-tech classrooms at FVTC” — GRAND CHUTE – Fox Valley Tech is going high tech in its classrooms.

KI paid $150,000 to help bring four new learning labs to the school at the start of the fall semester.

An official dedication was held Tuesday afternoon.

The rooms include multi-media screens and walls and desks that can be written on.

“We have learned through a lot of research and education that collaboration is key for student learning and I think these classrooms really give us the opportunity to provide the students with a lot of different ways to collaborate with each other,” said Cris Gordon, social science instructor at FVTC.

School leaders say general education courses are taught in the new classrooms.

From thenorthwestern.com: “Robotic welding program brings Walker to FVTC” — Learning to weld is normally a hands-on experience, but 14 Fox Valley Technical College students are taking a very hands-off approach to a new course.

Fox Valley Tech has introduced a course in robotic welding at its Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center on Oshkosh’s south side this semester as it responds to changing demands of area manufacturers.

The new program, and the eight robots mounted with MIG welding guns, caught the attention of Gov. Scott Walker, who toured the manufacturing campus Tuesday afternoon.

“We can compete with anybody in the world, anywhere around the world, but we’re not going to compete the way we used to,” Walker said. “Advanced manufacturing means people who have multiple skills that can be applied using not only crafts they’ve learned here, but also all the technology that goes with it.”

FVTC Metal Fabrication and Welding Instructor Ben Cebery said the college was able to use a portion of a three-year, $3 million Advanced Manufacturing Pathways Plus grant the U.S. Department of Labor awarded FVTC earlier this year to develop the robotic welding course’s curriculum.

“We’re seeing more automation in manufacturing,” Cebery said. “Surveys with local companies suggested it was a good idea for students to be exposed to automation. This program prepares students for what we’re seeing and the demands of industry.”

Jay Manufacturing CEO Matt Jameson said the company has six robotic welding stations and a lot more manual welding stations at its west side fabrication shop. He said the company has hired several welders recently, and needs to hire as many as 20 more. He said the company views robotic welding training as a definite plus.

“The more versatile a person is, the more we can do with them,” Jameson said. “If they know manual and robotic welding, that’s just a bonus. In addition, the people we have interviewed who tested well almost all had some form of technical college training.”

Joe Serio, of Menominee Falls, and Austin Kopplin, of Oshkosh, both said they’re excited to learn how to program the robots and get them to execute precision welds. Serio said he knows welders are in high demand, but learning more advanced skills like computer programming is vital to finding a good job.

“Usually, we don’t get to deal with computers much while welding, but there’s always someone who needs to run the robot in case something happens,” Serio said. “This comes easy and it’s a pretty nice skill to learn.”

Kopplin said he’s been impressed by the amount of programming required to get the robots to work and the precision with which they execute commands.

“It’s consistent and perfect every time,” Kopplin said. “You get jittery welding for six hours at a time, but these things can run all night.”

Cebery said the college reached out to companies who said students need to be familiar with robotic welding and asked them to provide one or two robots they use. He said Ariens Co., in Brillion, and Muza Metal Products, in Oshkosh, are just two of the companies that stepped up to help out.

“Getting eight robots on the floor would have cost an astounding amount of money,” Cebery said. “Finding another way was vital. Fortunately, we were able to find a way via donations and gifted equipment that exposes students to the different types of robotic welders. They get to learn on each of them.”

From WisFarmer.com: “Fox Valley Technical College building specialized skills” — Fox Valley Technical College’s Board of Trustees recently approved the state’s only Precision Agriculture program, a new offering designed to train the next generation of agribusiness and agronomy professionals.

The concept of precision agriculture takes data collected from industry equipment and generates prescribed maps for fields through the use of GPS technology and related software.

This innovative method of farming results in better tilling, planting, and harvesting due to variable rate applications.

Each soil and topographic makeup on any given parcel of land is unique, and precision agriculture pinpoints these distinctions to optimize the growing experience for stakeholders of production agriculture.

“Precision agriculture is the 21st Century management tool for production Ag,” says Mike Cattelino, associate dean of FVTC’s Manufacturing and Agriculture Technologies division. “This technology enables agriculture professionals to become better micro-managers of their own soil.”

Service Motor Company (SMC) in nearby Dale has been a strong proponent of the new offering, validating the need for advanced skills in farming.

“The whole landscape of agriculture is changing rapidly,” notes Jim Sommer, president of Service Motor Company.

He added, “Fox Valley Tech focuses on technology, which is needed to advance today’s agriculture industry by lowering costs and increasing productivity. Essentially, ag professionals now need to be visionaries when it comes to crop management, production, farm operations, and more to meet the intricacies of an ever-changing industry.”

One current challenge in the industry calls for more partnerships like SMC and Case IH uniting with FVTC to address a skills shortage in agriculture. The organizations continue to work in collaboration with FVTC’s agriculture programs to shape the college’s longstanding tradition of nearly 65 years as one of Wisconsin’s training leaders.

SMC and Case IH officially ventured into a new partnership in 2010 with FVTC by providing the state’s largest technical college with a plethora of new equipment over a 10-year span.

“The company is more engaged with us than ever before,” adds Cattelino. “The Sommer family and its staff helped us blueprint the precision Ag program based off of recent experiences they’ve encountered within the industry. It’s a model working relationship.”

FVTC’s Agriculture Center is currently undergoing an expansion due to the passage of the April 2012 public referendum, which advanced several facility-related projects for the college by nearly a 2-1 margin.

The center’s 7,600 square-foot expansion supports a nearly 87 percent growth in full-time equivalent students in FVTC’s agriculture-related programs since 2008.

The completion is set for September, in time for students this fall to experience the added learning labs, not only in agriculture, but in horticulture and outdoor power equipment as well.

In addition, strong graduate placement rates reaffirm the steady growth and need for newer programs that require advanced skill sets.

For example, all 37 graduates of FVTC’s Agribusiness and Science Technology program over the past three years landed careers, and all 12 graduates from last year’s class in the Agriculture Power Equipment program earned new jobs as well.

Cattelino says it’s an exciting time to be involved in agriculture. “With so much technology at one’s fingertips, the possibilities are endless in an industry that will never go away.”

From wisconsinagconnection.com: “Fox Valley Tech to offer Precision Ag Curriculum” — The board of trustees at Appleton’s Fox Valley Technical College has approved a new Precision Agriculture program which aims to train the next generation of agribusiness and agronomy professionals to be ready for the workforce. Teachers at the school’s agriculture center say it will be a one of a kind program in the state.

Precision agriculture takes data collected from industry equipment and generates prescribed maps for fields through the use of GPS technology and related software. This innovative method of farming results in better tilling, planting, and harvesting due to variable rate applications. Each soil and topographic makeup on any given parcel of land is unique, and precision agriculture pinpoints these distinctions to optimize the growing experience for stakeholders of production agriculture.

“Precision agriculture is the 21st Century management tool for production Ag,” says Mike Cattelino, associate dean of FVTC’s Manufacturing and Agriculture Technologies division. “This technology enables agriculture professionals to become better micro-managers of their own soil.”

Service Motor Company, a nearby Case IH dealership, is helping to supply the school with the necessary equipment to teach the program.

The Agriculture Center is currently undergoing an expansion due to the passage of the April 2012 public referendum, which advanced several facility-related projects for the college. That project is expected to be finished in time for students this fall to experience the added learning labs.

From fox11online.com: “FVTC unveils 1st of its kind ag program” — APPLETON – A new program at Fox Valley Technical College aims to make farming as precise as possible and the school says the program is the first of its kind in the state.

This field of soybeans was planted by Fox Valley Tech Students.  It’s a jumping off point for the school’s new program: Precision Agriculture.

“Optimize yield and decrease what it takes to grow the crops,” said Instructor Jason Fischer.

Fischer said precision ag encompasses a whole host of 21st-century farming techniques.  That includes self-driving planting equipment, tracking crop yield and the use of GPS and GIS systems in the fields.

“Completing maps that tell the farmer where were the high yields on the field and where were the low yields on the field and then make management decisions out of it,” explained Fischer.

What makes precision ag different is that instead of treating a field as one big piece of land it treats it section by section.

“So we’re gonna treat by the acre or even by the square foot differently across the field,” explained Fischer.

One example is fertilizer.

“Instead of putting the same rate of fertilizer across the field it puts more fertilizer where the plants need it and less fertilizer in areas of the field that do not need it,” said Fischer.

Mike Cattelino is associate dean of the manufacturing and agriculture technologies division.  He told us the college was able to start this new program thanks, in part, to a structural expansion of the agriculture department.

“Expansion started here in March and we’re scheduled to be ready for business in mid to late August,” said Cattelino.

Cattelino told us it’s important that Fox Valley Tech is the first school in Wisconsin with this program.

“The demand for precision ag really came from our business partners looking for people to fill the demand for precision ag specialists,” explained Cattelino, which means there should be jobs for students after graduation.

The precision ag program will start this fall.  It’s a year long program — covering planting to harvest, as well as the mechanic and business aspects of precision ag.

From wbay.com: “New FVTC program helps trucking companies fill skills gap” — Appleton – Instead of working against one another, a group of local trucking companies is teaming up to create a training program that will benefit all of them. The new program is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country.

Appleton West students are some of the first to hear about a new program being created at Fox Valley Technical College. After several local trucking companies found themselves trying to steal trailer tech employees from one other, because there’s a shortage of workers with the necessary skills, those companies decided to team up to create a curriculum to specifically teach trailer technician skills.

“It was a way for us to try and get more technicians in the field that we could all benefit from and ultimately the customer does,” says Margo Kane from Master Fleet, one of the participating companies.

The 18-week trailer tech program will cover a range of skills, everything from welding and electrical work to brake work and accident repair. With a 99% job placement rate, anyone who enters the program is pretty much guaranteed a job upon completion.

“For about $2200 somebody can come in for 18 weeks and go out in the industry and start at a good wage,” says Dan Poeschel from FVTC.

While high schoolers are being targeted for the trailer tech program, Fox Valley Tech officials tell us those who already work in the trades industry can easily transition into this program.

Says Poeschel, “The people that really transition well are somebody that may be a carpenter and they’re having a hard time finding work there. They could go right into, come on with a lot of skills and really excel at this.”

Registration for the new trailer tech program will begin in November. Classes are scheduled to start in January.

 

From thenorthwestern.com: “Technical college graduates find jobs by filling skills gap” — Tabetha Moore was a year away from earning her associate’s degree in human resources when a local manufacturing company gave her a full-time job in her field and agreed to pay for her last two semesters of school.

The 21-year-old hasn’t yet negotiated the salary she’ll earn after obtaining her diploma from Fox Valley Technical College in May, but that fact she secured a job so quickly reflects a new era of opportunity for graduates of two-year college programs.

“What surprised me most was that they would hire a 20-year-old without a degree to work in their human resources department,” Moore said.

She’s one of a new generation of graduates defying a stereotype that technical colleges offer a “second-to-best” option for those who don’t attend a university. Demand for technically-trained, skilled workers has driven up wages and employment opportunities for associate degree holders with highly-sought skill sets.

Analysts and educators refer to the situation as a skills gap. A wave of new jobs in a changing, high-tech economy is rolling in just as a mass of baby boomers retires. The end result is a glut of vacant positions with too few workers with desired skills.

“I think the simple economic theory about supply and demand is going to drive, locally and regionally, what’s driving up those associate’s degree wages. Employers are obviously very conscious about how some individuals joining their organization can add value to their customers and operations,” said Chris Matheny, vice president of instruction services for FVTC.

The competition for skilled workers is blurring the line between two- and four-year degree holders’ career opportunities. Nationwide, nearly 30 percent of Americans with associate’s degrees now make more than those with bachelor’s degrees, according to a recent study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

About 89 percent of 2012 graduates from FVTC were employed within six months of earning their degree, according to a survey of graduates. Three-out-of-four grads found work related to their field of study and earned an average starting salary of $33,000.

Many saw much higher wages. Graduates from the web site development program reported earning as much as $104,000; human resources grads reported earning up to $90,000; business management grads saw up to $80,000; and electrical engineers found jobs paying as high as $59,900, according to the graduate survey.

Not all these salaries are for entry level work. A growing number of adults are returning to college to learn additional skills to either find new work or stay relevant in their current field. More employers are also paying for their employees’ continuing education.

“Once you get in house, we often have to put students through $10,000-$20,000 of aircraft-specific training. Each individual we consider a huge investment for the company,” said Greg Laabs, vice president and general manager of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in Appleton.

Laabs spoke during a recent forum about the skills gap hosted by FVTC, where a number of employers said they’ve become more competitive with wages, hired younger people into higher-level positions and paid for schooling.

Nearly 55 percent of Wisconsin manufacturing companies reported offering collaborative training programs through local technical colleges and 46 percent reported increasing wages for difficult to fill positions, according a December 2012 survey by Schnenck SC, an Appleton-based accounting and business consulting firm.

“We offer competitive wages… The insurance packages offered are a huge bonus as well as the camaraderie and family values that go into a small to mid-sized business,” said Tony Robinson, vice president of manufacturing for Jay Manufacturing Oshkosh Inc. “Every employee at Jay Manufacturing is offered formal or on-the-job training experiences.”

Some employers are also beginning to hire people with associate’s degrees into management positions that previously required a four-year degree.

Paul Werth, 36, was among the first three people to graduate from FVTC’s new construction management program in 2011. Within nine months he was hired by Neenah-based Miron Construction Co. as a project manager, and he is now overseeing some of the construction related to FVTC’s expansion in Appleton.

“We’ve broke into this very traditional market where pretty much all the time it required a bachelor’s degree. Now, talking with students here (at FVTC), I know some have had job offers a month ago already,” Werth said.

The Georgetown center estimates 29 million jobs paying middle class wages today require no more than an associate’s degree. Similarly, the center estimates associate’s degree holders earn, on average, about $500,000 more over their careers than people with only high school diplomas, but $500,000 less than people with bachelor’s degrees. Those figures vary widely by profession.

A survey of graduates from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh indicates that most local bachelor’s degree holders still find a better starting wage than associate’s degree recipients. A UWO survey of 2011 graduates, which is the most recent available, shows 85 percent found jobs related to their majors within nine months of graduation. They earned starting salaries averaging $45,300.

The UWO survey had a 53 percent response rate, and the FVTC survey had a 78 percent response rate.

UWO Chancellor Richard Wells said a four-year education remains relevant and valuable to employers.

“A general education and the ability of a person to think critically, analytically and communicate effectively” — skills traditionally associated with a baccalaureate education — “is more important than a particular major. In the end, that’s what employers are looking for because you hopefully have someone who is passionate about life long learning,” Wells said.

From postcrescent.com: “Changing economy means embracing continual learning” — More than two decades working as a bricklayer was enough for Mark Vander Velden.

When construction activity dried up during the recession, it became more clear to Vander Velden he needed a career switch, but at 50 he wondered if learning new skills for a new career was still possible.

“I haven’t been in a classroom since high school so it was a little nerve-wracking to even think about going back,” said Vander Velden, who lives outside Hortonville.

Vander Velden checked out Fox Valley Technical College in 2011 and hasn’t looked back. He enrolled in the electromechanical program that year and expects to graduate this fall.

Vander Velden said he’s best at hands-on learning, which is a big part of the program he selected.

“It was great to be learning about all the different kinds of programming controllers and hydraulic systems I could potentially be working with,” he said.

Workforce training

Vander Velden isn’t alone. The median age of FVTC’s students are in their early 30s, which means the college serves many people like Vander Velden who want to update current job skills or try a different career, said Chris Matheny, vice president of instructional services at FVTC.

Matheny said keeping workers’ skills updated is the college’s ongoing mission and with the business environment in constant flux, the college also must be in regular communication with the community to ensure its programs are meeting regional needs.

“Our purpose really is to make sure that we’re always talking to our employers and get out as much as possible to ensure we’re giving them the skilled workers they need,” Matheny said.

Matheny said FVTC has advisory groups it regularly consults with to keep its programs up to date.

Appleton-based Miller Electric Mfg. Co. is one of its business partners. Miller has worked with FVTC on a variety of training programs for its own workers and on initiatives to enhance manufacturing training for other regional employers.

“A well-trained workforce is a competitive advantage that differentiates us from other global companies and prevents us from experiencing significant skill gaps due to future retirements of our baby boomers and to meet our future growth requirements,” said Mike Weller, president of Miller Electric.

 

From nbc26.com: “Job fair focuses on valley trained police officers” — APPLETON — Police departments from across the state are in Appleton looking for the next generation of crime fighters.

Law enforcement recruiters say shrinking budgets are limiting the number of new officer positions. As a result, new recruits are being held to higher standards than in years past in what has become a very competitive job market.

Hundreds of students came to Fox Valley Technical College to speak one on one with police recruiters from dozens of agencies.

Steven Kincaid is in the midst of a career change, making the rounds at the job fair.

The 43 year old FVTC criminal justice has a background in computer forensics.

“I wanted to apply my knowledge in computers to fighting computer crime, internet crime, and all that goes along with that,” Kincaid said.

The college’s 10th annual recruiting event features about 25 departments from across the state.

Departments are on the lookout for officers to help curb cyber crime.

“Having a background like that it’s as important as having a second language, if somebody can speak a second language we’re also looking for those kinds of skills, said Sgt. Dave Lund of the Appleton police department.

For future officers like Kincaid, these types of networking experiences with police agencies are invaluable.

Each police recruiter speaks with between 20 and 50 potential officers during the 4 hour job fair.

The college will soon offer a class specializing in cyber crime. It’s called “Financial Fraud Detection” will be offered for the first time this fall.

 

From postcrescent.com: “Newsmakers Q & A Fox Valley Technical College unveils new culinary arts theater” — Culinary arts instructors at Fox Valley Technical College have a new teaching tool: the Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre.

The theater is a tiered classroom with an industrial demonstration kitchen. It seats about 120 people and it’s loaded with the latest in technology and food service equipment.

Mike Ciske, FVTC’s food services director, spoke last week about the new theater on Newsmakers, The Post-Crescent’s online issues show. Here’s an edited transcript of the interview.

Can you go through some of the different cooking techniques you can practice in the theater?

We have everything from induction cooking to traditional broilers, griddles, gas stovetops, convection ovens, steamers — all industrial-grade, all restaurant-style cookware so that, when the students are in there or there are community-based events, they’ll be able to see things as they would happen in a traditional restaurant or hotel kitchen. So from that standpoint, they’ll be able to take the things they see and take them back into their labs, and be able to do them on the exact same type of equipment.

The theater does look like something off the Food Network. Can you describe the technology?

The 120 seats are tiered, and students have the advantage of three very large LED monitors that will show one of three camera feeds that are located above the cooking areas or in the back of the room. No matter where you’re seated, you’re going to get a good view. And the cameras can zoom in, so you can basically see the head of a pin on the monitors. From a cooking standpoint, you can see tails on a shrimp as if you were looking at a cookbook.

What kind of advantage will the theater give culinary arts students?

I think it does a couple of things. The popularity of the Food Network and cooking shows on TV are part of the reason we’ve had such a groundswell of new students in the culinary arts. This really brings that home for them, and engages the student who is four or five rows back and can see things and smell things. That theatricality really keeps students engaged in their education.

It also gives them the opportunity to jump behind the counter, jump behind the demo table and work on those skills — their people skills, their soft skills, their ability to share their knowledge, which is what their employers are looking for. They’re not only looking for skilled culinarians, they’re looking for people who can teach their skills as well. This is one way for them to learn that in a safe way, among their peers.

The new theater cost about $1.8 million to build, and was not part of the referendum at FVTC. How was this program funded? What part did Jones Dairy Farm have to play?

Jones is a very old, family-run business in Fort Atkinson. I had some ties with the farm, and we’ve had a long relationship with them. They were looking for a way to give back to the community — the restaurant community, the hospitality community. Through the course of two or three years, we just kept in touch and showed them what we do at Fox Valley Tech. Eventually, they came up with a challenge grant, then it was up to us to match that. That was the exciting part. It was challenging, but it allowed us to reach out to other industry partners, and get them on board with what we’re doing at the Tech.

It sounds like there was a lot of support from the restaurant industry in this area. When did they come forward?

We had over 30 donors of all different types, some of them quite large and some of them quite small. We got a tremendous amount of support from local restauranteurs, the lodging association, manufacturers. Wisconsin’s home to a ton of food and equipment manufacturers, and there were very few doors that Jeff (Igel, chair of the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Department at FVTC) and myself knocked on that we weren’t met with a very positive response. It was something we thought the school needed. We thought the students could really use it and put it to good use. The restaurant and hospitality industry are very forward-thinking that way. They’re very community involved, so that when something like this comes up, they really jump at the chance to get involved.

Will FVTC use the theater for public cooking classes?

Yes, and those classes are in the works right now. I’d imagine that a few will be offered in the spring, and I’d imagine they could range from evenings, to weekends. The theater is pretty busy during the week, with cooking classes and other FVTC uses, but I can see it being available to the community quite a bit for classes, presentations, any type of event that would need a theater. It’s very multipurpose, and I think it’s limitless what we could see in there.

From thecountrytoday.com: “Fox Valley Tech expanding ag facilities at Appleton campus” — Expansion to the Agriculture Center of Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton is estimated to be completed by fall 2013 as part of a $66.5 million building and acquisition project approved by voters last April.

The number of full-time equivalent students taking agriculture classes has increased nearly 87 percent in the past four years, according to college planners. The agriculture facility was last expanded 14 years ago, and new programs have been added without additional space, they said.

The $3.5 million agricultural area expansion calls for razing an older building, which was accomplished earlier this year. Additions will be made to the existing instructional building for more classrooms and computer labs. Current class space will be remodeled too. A new storage and maintenance building will be added adjacent to an existing storage building.

Planners expect the agricultural area expansion to be completed by fall 2013.

Construction is taking place in Appleton and at regional centers.

• $34.8 million Public Safety Training Center to be built adjacent to the Outagamie County Regional Airport;

• $11.9 Health Simulation and Technology Center addition;

• $7.4 million Student Success Center;

• $6.2 million Transportation Center Expansion;

• Regional expansions at Oshkosh ($1 million) and Chilton ($1.7 million).

FVTC also has centers in Waupaca and Wautoma.

From postcrescent.com: “Tech Village scaled back due to land sale changes” —   GRAND CHUTE — Work could begin later this month on a scaled-down version of a private apartment complex to house Fox Valley Technical College students.

The Outagamie County Board voted recently to sell 18.2 acres of land at the southwest corner of State 15 and Casaloma Drive to Madison-based development group UHCS Tech Village LLC, which owns and operates multiple private student housing communities.

The development company is purchasing the county-owned land for $856,630 — significantly less than the $1.36 million the county’s Property/Airport Committee had recommended in early October.

The buyer is still paying the $100,000 an acre the county was seeking but the overall sale price was rolled back because a new wetland survey last month revealed that only just under 8.6 acres is now considered buildable land. The county has been trying to sell the land for years and a wetland survey done more than five years ago indicated it had 13.6 acres of buildable land.

A closing date has been set for Nov. 28, pending the review by Grand Chute officials of revised plans for the housing project.

Under the revised Tech Village plan, the project’s first phase — estimated at $8 million — would feature a four-story, 90,000-square-foot building with 100 fully furnished apartments with one to five beds in each unit. Each floor of West Commons would have a study area, lounge, postal facility, central laundry, computer classroom and a fitness center.

“We still have room for most everything, it will just be on a little smaller scale,” said Tim Carlson of True North Architecture, Appleton, which is working with the Madison-based development group.

Units will be ready for occupancy in time for the start of FVTC’s fall 2013 semester, Carlson said.

The second phase, called East Commons, involves the construction of a 72,500-square-foot building with 60 apartments. It will include a cafe or sandwich shop, which will be connected to West Commons to allow all student residents to share the amenities.

The project would include a recreational trail along Casaloma Drive. The goal is to work with Outagamie County to link the new trail with an existing trail north of the Timber Rattlers stadium that connects to a U.S. 41 overpass and existing trails at FVTC.

“It’s the county parks trail and were working on an agreement with them to pave, light and maintain that trail section so that there would be no outlay of public money for that work or maintenance of it,” Carlson said.

While the first two phases are geared toward traditional students, the project’s last two phases will provide housing for students with families and those in specialized short-term training programs.

The third phase, called The Suites at Tech Village, would provide 90 one-bedroom apartment units in a three-story, 45,000-square-foot building slated for construction in late 2014.

The final phase — The Meadows at Tech Village — consists of 26 townhome units with one or two bedrooms for students with families.

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