Iowa Central Community College has more students for another year, and for another year is growing to accommodate.
In 2012, Iowa Central acquired apartment buildings for student housing, started construction of a new cafeteria and purchased facilities for its new East Campus.
"Iowa Central continues to grow," said President Dan Kinney. "That's been a great thing. The main reason we're growing is because our area is growing, with new businesses and stuff like that."
-Messenger photo by Brandon L. Summers
Josh Hansen, left, studies micro-economics while Devin Hall studies chemistry at Iowa Central Community College’s student center. The college has had growing enrollment for several years.
Sun Apartments, which formerly belonged to Iowa Central and were called "The Towers" were gifted partially to the college in December 2011 and purchased from Don and Bill Woodruff in 2012. After some renovations, The Towers were opened for students.
"We received those back, because we were to the point again where we just didn't have the housing capacity to continue to add students," Kinney said. "So that was a great gift to have, adding that."
In 2012, Iowa Central also began the construction of a new dining facility, which will open for next year.
"The addition of that has been needed for quite a while," Kinney said. "Our current facilities were built for 200 to 300 students in housing, to feed them. Well, we've got well over 1,100 students on campus, so our old facility just wasn't conducive to being able to do that. Opening this new facility will really help us be able to serve our students better. But also what that does is open up additional space."
A softball diamond, next to the student support center, was cleared for the location of the new dining facilities. The former cafeteria will be used for its culinary arts programs, which currently is off campus.
"We have to really repurpose what we have, and what that will allow us to do is to repurpose that facility for other classroom space," Kinney said. "Right now, our plans are to put our culinary arts in there. We've got kitchen hoods, everything already built into there, so now we can have the ability to bring our culinary arts back on campus, which we've attempted to do for a number of years. They've always felt kind of pushed away, by themselves, not part of the campus, because they're in a facility all by themselves."
With Cargill and CJ BioAmerica coming to Fort Dodge, Iowa Central aims to meet the need of local businesses and the community for more industrial training. In 2012, the college bought the former Western Express-Smithway site and made it into the new East Campus.
"We were able to purchase that at the end of the year and have added that into the mix to be able to do more noncredit out there," Kinney said.
The site gives the college more space for holding business training and classes, as well as hosting events.
"With the type of facilities out there it will provide us with the opportunity to do the farm shows and those type of programs we host on campus," Kinney said. "I hate getting them away from campus, but the major issue is, as we've grown on campus, that means students with cars and that's kind of hurt our ability for parking. That's really something we struggled with this last year. But then we'll also be able to do for any companies or organizations some training out there."
The new campus also benefits its trucking programs, Kinney said.
"The trucking industry has really picked up and the need for drivers, and that gives us some additional space for our truck driving program, to be able to expand our driving within the community, but go out and do some training," he said. "That facility has been really instrumental for economic development into our community. With the addition of everything that's happening in our community it's just one of those support mechanisms that will help continue to grow that."
The college continues to look for more space for its expanding programs and continued student growth.
"One of the biggest things we have to continue looking at into the future is additional space," Kinney said. "What growth do we have, the need for different degrees that we'll probably have to add to support our work force within our community. We continue to have those issues."
According to Kinney, the college is already anticipating what programs it will need in the future to meet ever-changing demands.
"As we move forward we continue to look at, what programs are we needing to support the industrial area that we serve, the nine county area," he said. "This last year, welders has been a big need not only here in Fort Dodge, but Storm Lake, down around the Jefferson area. We're looking at what can we do to continue to improve to serve those areas also, not just Fort Dodge. We continue to see what we can add, what we can do different."
Through 2013, Iowa Central will continue its push to let people know what the college can offer prospective employees and employers.
"The majority of jobs that are in our service area really require a certificate or two-year degree and there are really some good-paying jobs for that," Kinney said. "We have to get that out there not only to students and parents, to better understand what's out there, but to work closely with our local high school and middle schools to show what options are out there."