State Fair Community College will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center (OHWIC) on June 9, 2022.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. and marks the grand opening of the OHWIC with speakers, including Missouri Governor Mike Parson. The ribbon-cutting is open to the public; lunch and refreshments are complimentary.

 

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.

 

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 Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center will help students acquire the training they need to meet the growing demand for a skilled labor pool,” said SFCC President Joanna Anderson. “I am grateful we have leadership at every level, including Governor Parson, who understands this demand and recognizes the critical role community colleges play in workforce training.”

 

Governor Parson made workforce and education a top priority in his administration, along with infrastructure and stronger communities, as detailed on his website, governor.mo.gov/priorities.

 

“We are working to move Missouri forward, and by focusing on workforce development and infrastructure - we can reach this goal,” said Parson.

 

The governor’s website includes a detailed white paper that includes priorities in economic and community development such as, investing in higher education capital projects, workforce outreach and agriculture innovation in education.

 

“With the opening of this premier technical center, State Fair Community College is perfectly positioned to address many of the governor’s priorities and the challenges facing our state,” said Anderson. “We are a comprehensive community college that offers highly sought degrees and certificates in technical education, agriculture and health sciences - issues that are paramount to a better Missouri.”

 

Governor Parson will be joined on stage by Sedalia Mayor Andrew Dawson, SFCC Foundation President Joe Fischer, as well as Bradbury and Rowden.

 

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.

 

“The new Howard Center will set SFCC apart from other manufacturing training centers, not only in our local area, but throughout the Midwest,” said Precision Machining Program Coordinator and Instructor Justin Wright. “We (SFCC) have made a commitment to build the best program by partnering with the best local, regional and national manufacturers, as well as filling the building with the best manual and CNC machines and CMM measuring equipment.”

 

With the new OHWIC, 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.

 

“Data show that skilled trade occupations associated with advanced manufacturing move individuals from poverty to prosperity faster than other occupations,” said Michael Rogg, SFCC Technical Education and Workforce Innovation dean. “Graduates from these programs will have the skills necessary to secure well-paying jobs; they will have the buying power to purchase houses, vehicles and other large ticket items while local industry will have the employees to expand and be more competitive in their operations.”

 

In the photo: The Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center on the campus of State Fair Community College in Sedalia. A ribbon-cutting with Governor Parson and other officials will be held June 9. The public is invited to attend.