The sound of shovels hitting the ground as dirt flew through the air was met with applause Wednesday as Eastern Iowa Community Colleges’ (EICC) leaders, partners, local officials, and community members celebrated the official groundbreaking of Clinton Community College’s (CCC) new DeWitt Career Advancement Center.

Funding for the modern, 26,000-square-foot facility was made possible “thanks to the strong support of district voters, with more than 70 percent voting in favor of a $40 million bond to expand career and technical training opportunities across EICC’s service area,” a news release says.

The state of Iowa also contributed $1 million to construction with its Career Academy Incentive Fund.

“Close collaboration and partnership mark the preparations that have brought us to this point,” said Sonya Williams, EICC chancellor. “Our high school partners, the city of DeWitt, DeWitt Chamber and Development Company, faculty, staff, architects, and many others, joined in a multi-year planning process to envision and shape this career advancement center critical to the economic future of eastern Iowa. This is an incredibly exciting time for EICC, DeWitt, and the surrounding community.”

The new center will allow for increased services for all EICC students, as well as those in the college’s high school Career Academies. Career Academies provide high school students the opportunity to receive hands-on career training, and college-level credits, while they are still in high school. By providing students with the training needed to enter high-demand, skilled trades at no charge, the academies especially answer a need for those students who might not normally continue their education past high school. Planned academies include:

  • Agriculture
  • Business
  • CNC machining
  • Construction technology
  • Healthcare
  • Information technology

“Four out of five jobs lost in the last recession were lost by individuals with a high school education or less,” said Brian Kelly, CCC President. “This type of strategy of embedding career and technical education into our high schools is an investment in the future. We saw an opportunity to help our community become better prepared and more resilient.”

In attendance were several high school students from Calamus-Wheatland who currently take concurrent courses with EICC. Many of the students emphasized their excitement for the opportunities the DeWitt location will provide.

“If this center were only Clinton, students would not be able to participate because the distance is too far,” said senior Megan Forret.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get the hands-on experience and have the college experience while I am still in high school,” said junior Courtney Knoche, who is interested in studying ag business and communication. “It’s exciting to have this here in DeWitt. I want to stay in Iowa and would love to stay close to my hometown, and this is a great opportunity to learn and grow in my hometown.”

“This center will also offer opportunities for our regional business to be engaged in this process,” said Angela Rheingans, president and CEO of the DeWitt Chamber and Development Company. “They can be engaged in career exploration, training partnerships, internships, apprenticeships, and I am assuming a job fair or two. I have no doubt this career and technical education center will also assist with increased workforce and in my efforts to recruit new businesses to Clinton and Jackson counties.”

The center will include multi-purpose laboratories, classrooms, a student commons/lobby area and offices for instructors. Studio 483 Architects, an architectural firm with offices in Rock Island and Davenport, provided design services. In addition to the ceremonial groundbreaking, those in attendance were invited to participate in signing the final beam of the building. The beam, filled with notes of encouragement and well wishes, was placed at the conclusion of the event. Construction of the facility is scheduled to be completed by fall 2023.

For more information, and to see floor plans and artist’s renderings of the DeWitt Career and Technical Education Center, visit here.