Hundreds of people gathered this week to celebrate Eastern Iowa Community Colleges’ (EICC) new Clinton Career Advancement Center.

The grand opening of Clinton Community College’s new Career Advancement Center was held on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022.

The grand opening represented a significant milestone for the college, K-12 partners, business and industry, and the community, who tirelessly worked together to see this vision brought to life, according to a Wednesday college release. Through tours, hands-on exercises with instructors, and delicious soup samples prepared by culinary students, the new facility buzzed with excitement.

“When we think about equity, belonging and inclusion, how do we ensure that everyone has an equal chance to participate in the future?” Clinton Community College President Brian Kelly asked during opening remarks. “One way we can do that is by providing opportunities within our community like this career advancement center. This is a celebration of leadership and this is a celebration of vision.” 

Brian Kelly, president of Clinton Community College.

$40-million bond

It’s a vision that was made possible in March 2021 thanks to strong support of more than 70% of district voters, who passed a $40-million bond to fund the project.

Located across the street from Clinton Community College’s main campus building, the $9-million, 26,700-square-foot facility supports career and technical education training with multi-purpose laboratories, classrooms, faculty offices, and a large, common area.

Programs offered at the Clinton Career Advancement Center include Agriculture, Automotive Technology, Construction Technology, Culinary, Engineering Technology, Education, Healthcare, Information Technology, and Welding Technology. The facility will also serve area high schools, through the college’s Career Academies. 

Part of the tour of the Career Advancement Center Oct. 24, 2022.

“Only 45% of adults in our area have training beyond high school, and the Labor Department estimates around 65% of all jobs available or created in the next five years will need post-high school education,” said Kristen Raney, EICC’s Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “Through EICC’s Career Academies, local high school juniors and seniors will be able to earn college credit and gain valuable hands-on skills at no cost to them…leading to good paying jobs and pathways to further education.” 

Gary DeLacy is superintendent of the Clinton Community School District.

Clinton Community School District Superintendent Gary DeLacy recalled his time as principal of Camanche High School and how access to this type of education and training would have impacted students. 

“I had students I know really would have excelled with something like this here,” he said. “I am very excited by the opportunities our students now have for the first time, to receive high quality career pathway education right here in the city of Clinton.”

Addressing business needs

Beyond serving students, the new center is designed with the needs of business and industry at top of mind. Local employers played an important role in every phase of the project, from participating in forums to helping develop course curriculum. 

Part of the tour of the new center Monday, Oct. 24.

“Workforce is on the tip of everyone’s tongue,” said Andy Sokolovich, President and CEO of Grow Clinton. “I don’t know if you have seen the billboards around town, but I am pretty sure everyone is hiring. In order to ensure that employers have the adequate skill sets they need to be successful, now immediately and in the future, we have to create pipelines. Pipelines of young professionals who come to facilities just like this…to feed the needs of our local employers. That’s where our bread is buttered.” 

As Clinton Mayor Scott Maddasion simply put it, “this will be a game changer for our community.” 

The Clinton Career Advancement Center is one of several projects funded by the $40-million bond. Construction is also nearly complete on a Career Advancement Center in Muscatine, and the college just broke ground on a Career Advancement Center in DeWitt. At Scott Community College’s campus, construction is currently underway on a Health Sciences addition that will support programs in Allied Health and Nursing. 

For more information on the college’s expansion of career and technical education, click HERE.