On a chilly, rain-soaked morning, members of Clarke County and Osceola, Iowa businesses, Clarke County and State government officials, along with Southwest Community College (SWCC) leadership, the Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC) joined together with community members to celebrate the construction kick-off for the ORBIT Education Center. While the event was moved indoors due to the weather, the packed room at SWCC’s Osceola Campus was abuzz with excitement for the new facility and its projected impact on the future of business and education throughout the region.

“Our goal with the new education center is to help local industry grow and become more efficient and more profitable,” said CCDC Executive Director, Bill Trickey. “With our partnership with SWCC, The ORIBIT Center will increase regional access to the education and skills necessary to be successful in these ever-changing environments.”

By partnering with SWCC, classes and curriculum for the ORBIT Center will bring industrial and manufacturing educational programming normally made available at SWCC’s Creston, IA campus. That, along with new curriculum to meet the demand of businesses throughout the region, will make the ORBIT center a draw for regional education programs, local manufacturers, and businesses across the state.

Lindsay Stoaks, President at SWCC stepped up to speak on behalf of the college offering their dedication to the program’s success and commitment to building a stronger workforce, saying,

“These training opportunities will immediately exist and strengthen the advanced manufacturing pipeline in our region by developing more talent to fill in-demand, high-paying jobs.”

As the celebration continued, those deeply involved in the development spoke about the excitement and their vision of the very near horizon for Osceola and the south-central area.

Wayne Pantini, Vice President of Economic Development at SWCC added his perspective by saying,

“I get the distinct privilege of traveling across the state to talk with industry leaders to understand what their job training needs are. It’s an exciting prospect to be able to come back to them knowing we’ll have this dedicated lab space to help them be more successful and meet the demand of future manufacturing right here in our own region.”

Click through the gallery below to see the latest renderings of the ORBIT Center as well as photos from Friday’s event:

Pantini, along with the CCDC and local leadership kicked off the development of the ORBIT Center’s programming more than 18-months ago through an industrial training needs assessment with local manufacturers. This was to determine the education and skill sets in highest demand locally and how the center could address this need as quickly as possible.  Based on that feasibility dataset, and as part of the launch of project, SWCC will be moving their Applied Engineering Technology program from their main campus in Creston to the new ORBIT Center as soon as the facility is completed late this fall.

On top of existing curriculum, the SWCC team will also be working with local industry to determine short-course programming, including continuing education courses (CEUs) as well as addressing high school-level technology education and career academy programming to help enhance and maintain manufacturing skill levels across the region.

Funding for development of the ORBIT Center falls largely upon a $2 Million Federal grant through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and CCDC financial support. The $2 Million grant, awarded in September of 2022, is part of the American Rescue Plan Fund specifically marked for the Workforce Training Center. The architectural planning, design and development, provided by Brian Crawford and Colleen Ladd and their team at Denovo Construction Solutions  has been covered by CCDC.

“Being a native of Osceola and seeing a project like this come to fruition is so exciting,” said Crawford. “When I was a kid, growing up in the area, you had to leave town to get the education necessary to succeed in these industries. Today, we have [access to] these programs right here in Osceola.”

As the event came to a close and group photos were taken, the conversations around the future of the project and manufacturing across the region were filled with hope and excitement. As actual dirt starts moving in the coming weeks, the project is expected to take the spring and summer to complete, potentially opening for course activity and students as soon as the Fall of 2024.

If you have questions or would like more information about the ORBIT Education Center, please contact Bill Trickey, CCDC Executive Director, at 115 E Washington Street, P.O. Box 426, Osceola, IA 50213, phone: 641-342-2944, email: [email protected]

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