Pine Technical and Community College has received $2.2 million in state and federal grants to renovate and update student leisure and learning spaces, including its library, lounge and cafeteria.
Though work is not scheduled to start until January, the college held a groundbreaking ceremony in October, and invited area legislators to take part.
“This is a special day for a lot of us,” said Pine Technical and Community College President Joe Mulford. “We’ve been working on this project for a couple years. We really had a vision. We wanted to create a building to match the high-quality education that we believe that we’re providing everybody ... and preparing them for those great jobs here in the region.”
He pointed out that half of the project is state funded and half is federally funded.
“It takes a partnership in rural Minnesota,” Mulford said. Out here, I think, we’re a little faster, a little tougher and we figure it out a little differently. We needed the federal support. We needed the state funds. We needed the local resources to make this happen.”
District 11B State Representative Nathan Nelson said too many young people are moving out of the area for education and work.
“That leaves an aging demographic in rural Minnesota,” Nelson said.
He congratulated the college and staff. “It’s exciting to see this come to our district here,” he said. “Being able to have a lot of technical skills, there’s a growing demand for that in rural Minnesota.”
Minnesota’s Eighth District Representative Pete Stauber noted that the East Central Regional Development Council played a large part in obtaining the grants for Pine Technical and Community College, and said the community should be proud.
“Rural Minnesota matters,” Stauber said. “Every single day that we’re in DC, the rural legislators get together. You can’t forget us. And to have the Department of Commerce say, Pine Tech deserves this, and it’s in rural Minnesota, and we matter.
“For you instructors out there, you are worth your weight in gold, because you are preparing that next generation of workforce... the jobs that we need, and that we’re short of.” Stauber said. “We don’t take a back seat to anyone. Pine Technical College, you are A number 1. I couldn’t be more proud of this college and of everyone in this room.”
The college is working with TKDA, an architectural company out of Duluth. The project has an anticipated completion date of July 2020.