The State Fair Community College Board of Trustees approved a $6.9 million contract with Prost Builders, Inc., for construction of the Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center during a special meeting called for Tuesday afternoon.

The virtual meeting was made public by ZOOM technology and was attended by all six board members, in addition to SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson, SFCC Vice President Keith Acuff and Justin O'Neal, as well as Board President Randy D. Eaton of Warsaw. Eaton called and led the meeting.

The total bid from Prost was $6,910,000, which includes a base bid of $6,003,000 and four bid alternates:

Bid Alternate 1: $111,000
Bid Alternate 2: $694,000
Bid Alternate 3: $85,000
Bid Alternate 4: $17,000

Prost Builders is based in Jefferson City and will construct the Center per CDBG guidelines. SAPP Architects have been involved in the design phase of the project.

It was noted during the 4 p.m. meeting that the original estimate for the Center was $7.75 million. There will be $300,000 of donated material, it was also noted.

“We came in way less than our original estimate,” O'Neal said of the 38,000-square-foot facility.

Board member and secretary Nick La Strada made the motion to accept Prost Builders' bid, seconded by treasurer Justin Hubbs.

Board member Jim Page cast the only no vote when JoLynn Turley took a verbal vote tally. Turley serves as executive assistant to the President and the SFCC Board of Trustees

Acuff noted that RFPs were sent to 25 financial institutions and are due back on Friday.

A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. on the site of the original Plywood U (SFCC), east of the Fielding building.

Gov. Mike Parson is expected to arrive at the event by 2:45 p.m. and will make remarks on stage.

The Board of Trustees will be sporting their Roadrunner blue blazers in weather forecast to be around 46 degrees that day.

Eaton will speak on behalf of the Board during the event, expected to last around 30 – 45 minutes.

“It's an exciting time in the life of the college” Board President Eaton said during the 22-minute meeting. “We're one step closer to reality.”

Face masks are requested to be worn by all those in attendance, it was noted by Dr. Anderson.

The 38,500 square foot facility will more than double the college’s capacity in precision machining and welding, and expand other programs such as industrial maintenance, robotics, logistics, leadership/supervisory skills, and apprenticeships. College officials hope to open the center spring 2022.

The Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center will increase the pipeline of students pursuing high-demand, technical careers; provide under-served and nontraditional populations with avenues to obtain technical skills training; and give area employers the opportunity to skill-up and train workers locally. Students will be able to earn certifications in high paying fields and secure jobs to sustain their families today and offer greater opportunities for their children in the future in central Missouri.

The college broke the news of the Workforce Innovation Center last December when it announced it had received a significant contribution from Olen Howard’s daughters, Darlene Bradbury and Shirley Rowden. Both Rowden and Bradbury will be in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony.

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.

In addition to the Howard donation, SFCC received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Missouri Department of Economic Development in a partnership with the city of Sedalia, as part of the Workforce Training Initiative. These investments will provide quality job-training that will benefit stakeholders such as nonprofits, local government agencies, other technical colleges and universities, and positively affect an estimated 860 people of low and moderate income.

The college also received $500,000 in Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) tax credits that will be offered to donors through the college’s capital campaign, Stronger Workforce, Greater Community: A Capital Campaign for the Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center and Center for Excellence. The campaign goal is to raise $10 million to construct the new facility and renovate existing spaces.

The SFCC Board of Trustees will meet again at 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17 on ZOOM.