Workforce Center looks to move to M State campus [UPDATED]Published 4:28am Monday, May 13, 2013 Updated 6:31am Monday, May 13, 2013
Plans are in the works for the Minnesota Workforce Center-Fergus Falls to move from its downtown location to the M State-Fergus Falls campus. If the planning stages move forward, the center would make the move during the summer of 2014.
“We’re in some initial stages,” said Julie Sachs, center operations manager with Rural Minnesota CEP. “It’s still up in the air. I don’t want people to think we’re moving out this July.”
The move will require completion of a 12,443-square-foot renovation at M State. The merge of the two entities would combine the college’s access, career and transfer services with the services offered by the Rural Minnesota CEP Regional Workforce Center.
“There’s all kinds of advantages for having a one-stop shop,” M State President Peggy Kennedy said. “It will certainly be more convenient.”
M State approached the Workforce Center about a year ago with an idea to move the center to the library wing of the campus.
“We put our heads together and we came up with this plan,” Kennedy said. “We just thought that this was a way that we could combine the resources and positively impact whoever was in need of our services.”
The workforce center and its partners found that it would be feasible to change locations, but the college would need to complete some renovations in the library wing in order for that to happen, Sachs said.
They’re looking at creating the Center for Student Workforce Success, where Fergus Falls workforce and its partners would provide the same services, “but we’d be providing them out on campus,” Sachs said. “And the feeling is we’d be able to reach more people who could use our services.”
At the college, the workforce center would actually have about 1,700 square feet less compared to the downtown center, according to Sachs, but they would gain flexible spaces to use, like conference rooms, cafeteria space and a computer lab. On the other hand, the move would save them some green.
“It would definitely be a significant savings to the workforce center system,” Sachs said.
The project would update and repurpose the existing library, meeting and classroom spaces that are underused and in need of equipment upgrades. The space hasn’t been renovated since the early 1970s.
The renovations would cost about $1.5 million, according to Kennedy.
“We hope that we can get half of that from the state and that we could raise the other half,” Kennedy said.
M State submitted the project for a 2014 capital budget request of $750,000. It would be part of a bonding bill with M State. The Fergus Area College Foundation is prepared to raise money for the project as part of the capital campaign.
“It’s one of our priorities,” Kennedy said. “It’s very highly thought of by the people that rated it.”
They hope to find out this spring or summer whether they received funding for the project, and Kennedy is “highly optimistic.”
Being at the college will really help since education is such an important part of life, Sachs said. The workforce center will also see a lot of benefits with the move, including access to M State’s technology system, smartboards and electronic signs. Not to mention a large space for parking, which has been a struggle for the center downtown.
The next step for the project would be to secure funding and work on predesign plans.
“I just think it would be a really good fit for everybody involved,” Sachs said.