Construction efforts for the SLC International Airport Terminal Redevelopment Program are well underway, but soon there will be another set of cranes in the area. Last week, Salt Lake Community College and state officials officially broke ground on SLCC’s new Westpointe Center expansion, located between the airport and I-215 at 2150 W. Dauntless Avenue.
“We’ve been working on this for five years… to have us all assembled here to break ground and to watch this new center rise up over the next 18 months or so is just going to be remarkable.” said Salt Lake Community College President Deneece G. Huftalin at the groundbreaking.
During the 2016 Legislative session, the Utah State Legislature approved the $42.9 million needed by SLCC to begin construction on the 121,000 square foot expansion. The building, designed by AJC Architects, is intended to be an adaptable, flexible space that can adjust to changing needs of student and market demands.
The center will be CTE (Career and Technical Education) oriented, meaning that in addition to traditional learning classrooms, it will house training or hands-on facilities for numerous technical trades.
“We knew that we needed a better facility, a more nimble facility, a facility that would really teach students in an integrated flexible way. It’s going to be beautiful. It’s going to be high tech. And we want it to be iconic,” said Huftalin in a statement. “We want it to be a symbol for career and technical education and the importance of workforce in Salt Lake County.”
Not only will it provide a direct pipeline for technician training and supply Utah’s employers with an immediate workforce, but the center will potentially add new programs in industrial robotics, mechatronics, and metrology to support Utah’s growing startup economy.
The Westpointe Center will provide direct training and assistance for traditional students and returning students hoping to improve their skill sets and re-enter the workforce. Programs include training for technicians, skilled trade workers, production operators, drivers, and laborers. Which, according to a 2013 ManPower Group US Global Talent Shortage Survey, employer demand for these type of jobs are among the fast growing and are subsequently the hardest to fill due to an inadequately skilled workforce.
According to Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes, the new center represents a need to prevent potentially negative changes to the local and national economy, and plays a significant role in Utah’s economic development efforts.
“We have a manufacturing sector. We have workforce. We’re not going to become a service-oriented economy. … It’s not going to happen and shouldn’t happen,” said Hughes.
In addition to providing the state economy with a skilled set of workers, District 1 Utah State Senator Luz Escamilla and District 3 State Rep. Sandra Hollins both believe the Westpointe Center will benefit neighborhoods and communities that surround the expansion as well. The center will bring hundreds of new students to the area just west of I-215 and should be a catalyst for economic development in the area.
“I think this… not only [addresses] economic development issues, it’s really going to change the lives of many, many individuals. You will make things happen here… To me, it’s just changing lives for many working, poor families that are looking for a better opportunity,” said Escamilla.
According to SLCC representatives, Utah sole community college, is the most ethnically diverse institution, 50 percent are first generation college students, and one of the largest providers of technical education in the state. The college serves over 61,000 students, nearly half of which are C.T.E. students, at 11 locations throughout Salt Lake County.
The new Westpointe Center expansion is expected to be completed by 2018.