The Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center is now officially open after a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Thursday under beautiful blue skies and witnessed by well over 300 people.

The ribbon-cutting involved dozens of people, including reps from Sedalia, Lincoln, Warsaw and Cole Camp Chambers of Commerce, areas that SFCC serves.

Governor Parson was joined on stage by Sedalia Mayor Andrew Dawson, SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson, SFCC Foundation President Joe Fischer, SFCC Board of Trustees Patty Wood, as well as sisters Darlene Bradbury and Shirley Rowden, representing the Olen Howard family.

The OHWIC was made possible by support from the city of Sedalia and the state of Missouri, along with a successful capital campaign from the SFCC Foundation. The capital campaign raised $10 million for the facility’s construction. The campaign kicked off in December 2019 when the college announced it had received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant with the City of Sedalia and a major contribution, one of the largest in the foundation’s history, from Darlene Bradbury and Shirley Rowden, the daughters of Olen Howard, for whom the building is named.

In a printed program handed out, SFCC thanked Gov. Parson, Sen. Sandy Crawford, and Rep. Brad Pollitt for House Bill 19 ($2M), Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development MoExcels (2.4M) and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for Career and Technical Education ($1M).

The program also listed 43 individuals and businesses who contributed $10,000 or more to SFCC's “Stronger Workforce, Greater Community: A Capital Campaign for the Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center and Center for Excellence.” Many of them (or business reps) were in attendance Thursday morning.

The formal event with seven speeches was followed by lunch provided by the Missouri Cattlemen's Association (compliments of the SFCC Foundation) and tours of the new facility.

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Gov. Parson and several dignitaries took the first VIP tour, followed by hundreds of others. Parson then traveled to Kansas City for a Special Olympics event, then to St. Louis for an evening event honoring retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.

Howard, a former Sedalia resident, was born in 1925 in Knobby, Missouri, in rural Benton County and graduated from Climax Springs High School in 1943. Howard and his brother, Marvin, started Howard Construction in 1945. He later started Howard Farms, Howard Quarries and Howard Ready Mix.

The OHWIC will increase the college’s capacity to deliver workforce training by 200 percent and increase enrollment by at least 120 percent in career and technical areas. The new center will provide expanded lab and classroom spaces for training in welding and precision machining.

SFCC will renovate space in the Fielding Technical Center to create a Center for Excellence for industrial technology, leadership and supervisory skills and logistics training; space for the new pre-apprenticeship program; and a climate, refrigeration and energy control (HVAC) lab, and an advanced manufacturing and robotics lab.