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Our view: Get behind the expansion project at LTC

6:53 PM, Apr. 26, 2013  |  Comments
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We have but three words about the $6.1 million expansion project unveiled by Lakeshore Technical College on Thursday - get behind it.

While the pricetag sounds imposing, the reward will far outweigh the risk. The school is tight on space in high-demand programs that often have waiting lists, such as CNC machining, welding and industrial maintenance.

Industries in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties, along with those throughout the state, are lamenting the shortage of workers for the number of skilled positions they have available. The LTC expansion won't entirely alleviate that problem, but it represents a good start. It will take care of the waiting lists while attracting new students to the fields in question.

The project includes an extensive renovation of the Trade and Industry Building at LTC's Cleveland campus, along with a building addition that would nearly double the size of the school's 17,000-square-foot Flexible Training Arena.

LTC is expected to borrow up to $4.1 million for the project, and raise the remainder through private donors. The school already has $500,000 in donor commitments, and we hope that the rest will come easily because of the worthwhile nature of the building venture.

There is little doubt about the need. For example, the school's machining lab is currently being used 18 hours a day, with students arriving as early as 3:30 a.m. That kind of scheduling puts a strain on students and faculty alike.

The expansion isn't just about bricks and mortar, however. The school also will purchase advanced equipment for each of the three programs, which will allow it to create new degree options aimed at turning out graduates with higher skill levels.

There are a number of causes worthy of receiving community donations. Often it is difficult to decide where giving can do the most good. In the case of the LTC expansion, it is a no-brainer. It is needed. It will provide benefits in the short term and in the future.

The only drawback may be the added and ongoing expense of hiring more instructors when the expansion is complete. That, however, is a small price to pay for the ultimate benefit to the local economy.

This is the first private capital campaign in the school's 100-year history, according to school President Michael Lanser. Once a century, we can certainly get behind it.

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