It’s anything but slow at Iowa Central

Summer at Iowa Central Community is usually everything but slow. This year especially. Thank you to the voters for the passage of our general obligation bond back in February. That showed the great support we have as a college. Since the vote, we have been busy finalizing plans for the upgrades that are needed within our institution to continue to serve our region for the next 50 years.

Right after the vote our team went to work planning the projects throughout all our locations. Our first step involves updating the 2007 Campus Master Plan to include all our centers. It is important for us to not only continue to evaluate our current needs but continue to plan for our future needs. During the updating of our master campus plan, we have been reviewing the needs for the next 10 to 15 years as well as looking at our entire service area to support the ever growing business and industries that we serve. Our goal is to encourage our youth and young families to stay within our region to fill the many new high demand jobs that are being created. We also want to continue to focus on our adult learners to improving their skills to fill the jobs within our region. Below you will see how we are accomplishing that with the projects we are currently working towards completing.

Iowa Central has seen some tremendous enrollment growth in the past. We are in the process of selecting an architect to begin working on the new Greehey Family Student Success Center. The goal of this project is to improve student retention through a stronger early intervention program which will require co-locating our support services. When struggling students are identified and connected with campus support services at the earliest possible moment, we improve their chances of success. Housing all student services in one facility will allow staff to collaborate most effectively to provide the services that students need to be successful. This will also allow us to identify the at-risk students and provide them with the correct support services. Our goal is to provide these services to increase persistence, academic standing, and graduation rates so students will be prepared to enter the workforce, which aligns with the Future Ready Iowa Goals.

In addition to a new facility much of the general obligation bond will be used to update our current infrastructure needs. When many of our buildings were built we did not know the increased electrical needs that we would face because of the increased use of technology. Over the past month and through the middle of July we will be upgrading the main electrical service in three buildings. This will allow us to support the technology needs to improve the teaching and learning within our classrooms and support the new jobs coming to our region.

This summer you will be able to see some of the improvements happening on all campus sites. On the Fort Dodge campus, we will be adding new windows to the Science Building and increasing the energy efficiency of that building by updating the entrance with a breezeway. In addition to adding the breezeway, we will be able to make that building more accessible for students with disabilities. In Storm Lake, we will be replacing some of the roof. In Webster City, the Chelesvig Center will be getting new windows that will continue to help increase the efficiency of our older facilities.

Another exciting project that is happening for the Storm Lake area is the new industrial training center. This will allow Iowa Central to increase our industrial training to the west side of our service area and add additional offerings to high school students. We are in the process of finalizing the plans and hope to start construction early fall on that project. To also serve the western side of our region we have been in conversations with the Pocahontas Economic Development Board and the city of Laurens to add our second career academy to that area. This academy will focus on advance manufacturing. To keep our youths, we have to provide them with the ability to better understand what needs our region has in the area of advance manufacturing. The facility will also be used to train adult learners for the great jobs within that area.

The Quality Fuel and Bio Testing Laboratory has grown so fast we are now looking to relocate off campus. With the approval of the $25.5 million 2018 Bond Vote, many new possibilities are available for the Laboratory. The secured funding plus additional matching funds will be used to construct a new facility with greatly expanded capabilities. New equipment will potentially include two separate test engines needed to determine the octane rating for gasoline fuels and cetane rating for diesel fuels. These are two tests that are routinely requested but must be out-sourced to other facilities for completion, adding additional time and cost for our clients. Having these capabilities in-house will not only greatly enhance our service to our clients, but will also add capacity in an industry where very few laboratories possess the capability to run these tests.

The college will work closely with the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, local bio companies, Webster County Board of Supervisors and the city of Fort Dodge as we move forward planning the project. Many of the projects are in the planning stage. Within the next year, you will begin to see more work being completed. The upcoming changes to Iowa Central through the projects would not have been possible if it was not for the great partnerships we have within our region.

Dr. Dan Kinney is president of Iowa Central Community College.