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Published in Economic Development

Southwest Michigan First receives $100M gift to build career, technical education center

BY Friday, October 15, 2021 01:59pm

KALAMAZOO — Plans for a Career and Technical Education Center in Kalamazoo County are moving forward following anonymous gifts of $100 million and property for the project, economic development officials announced today.

Southwest Michigan First today announced the gifts from anonymous donors, who asked the economic development organization to act as their representative in the property transfer and funds. 

Carla Sones COURTSEY PHOTO

“Today’s incredibly generous gift represents a transformational moment in the economy of Southwest Michigan,” Carla Sones, president and interim CEO of Southwest Michigan First, said in a statement. “Preparing young people to succeed in high-demand careers provides access to opportunity and helps them live their lives to the fullest and contribute to the innovation needed by our region’s companies to remain globally competitive.” 

The new facility is expected to open in fall of 2024, and will be located next to Wings Event Center near the Sprinkle Road interchange on I-94. Courses planned to be offered at the center will provide students with industry recognized credentials, as well as skills including collaboration, communication, problem solving, critical thinking and self management. 

Over the summer, Southwest Michigan First and the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA) formed a Career Technical Education steering committee alongside local employers, community organizations and school districts. The steering committee reviewed, analyzed and approved course recommendations to the KRESA Board of Education based on a labor market analysis by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and the University of Michigan’s Youth Policy Lab.

“For years, local educators and employers have talked about the need for a centralized career and technical center in Kalamazoo County,” Sones said. “That vision is now a big step closer to becoming a reality.”

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