ESCANABA — Fifty million dollars in grant money have been awarded to community colleges around the state through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program. One of the schools to benefit from the program is right here in the Upper Peninsula.
Bay College in Escanaba was awarded almost $750,000 in state funds to help fund the purchase of equipment for four technology programs. Two brand new areas of study at Bay are among those benefiting from the funds.
“A lot of times what we do is talk to employers in our area, and we keep an eye on what’s needed for our local area, and so we’ve identified a need for both mechatronics and for EMT and paramedic degrees, but they’re resource intensive and they have equipment needs, and so what we do is keep an eye out for opportunities to get those pieces of equipment,” said Mark Kinney, Dean of Business and Technology. “So we’ve had plans to offer these degree programs, and then it’s just a matter of pulling everything together, and so when a grant opportunity like this comes around, we write it and if we’re successful, then that gives us the resources that we need to actually make it a reality.”
The grant money, in addition to around a quarter million in matching funds, is being used to purchase items like an ambulance and robotic arms for the new programs. The welding and water resource management majors will also see new additions. Many of these programs can help provide well–trained talent to area employers.
“One of the things we hear from employers all the time is how difficult it is to find qualified people to fit their needs,” Kinney added. “So these are attempts to give the training and the education to people so that employers can find those qualified graduates and more easily find people locally to fill their employment needs.”
Both the EMT and mechatronics programs are slated to start in the Fall of 2015. For more information about Bay College’s offerings, click here.