State Fair Community College is now accepting bids for construction of the Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center (OHWIC), with plans to break ground on the facility in November.

The 38,500 square foot facility will be located on the southeast corner of the Sedalia campus, which was the original site of the college’s first building – “Plywood U.” The center will more than double the college’s capacity in precision machining and welding, and expand other programs such as industrial maintenance, robotics, logistics, leadership/supervisory skills, and apprenticeships. College officials hope to open the center spring 2022.

The Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center will increase the pipeline of students pursuing high-demand, technical careers; provide under-served and nontraditional populations with avenues to obtain technical skills training; and give area employers the opportunity to skill-up and train workers locally. Students will be able to earn certifications in high paying fields and secure jobs to sustain their families today and offer greater opportunities for their children in the future in central Missouri.

“State Fair Community College prides itself on being responsive to the community’s needs, and workforce development is definitely a huge need.” said Dr. Joanna Anderson, SFCC president. “In fact, our first technical trades programs, automotive and welding, were started in 1971 with a state grant when Sedalia faced a workforce shortage of trained mechanics. Now, more than 50 years later, we are responding to current state and local workforce demands.”

The college broke the news of the Workforce Innovation Center last December when it announced it had received a significant contribution from Olen Howard’s daughters, Darlene Bradbury and Shirley Rowden. Howard, a former Sedalia resident, was born in 1925 in Knobby, Missouri, in rural Benton County and graduated from Climax Springs High School in 1943. Howard and his brother, Marvin, started Howard Construction in 1945. He later started Howard Farms, Howard Quarries and Howard Ready Mix.

In addition to the Howard donation, SFCC received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Missouri Department of Economic Development in a partnership with the city of Sedalia, as part of the Workforce Training Initiative. These investments will provide quality job-training that will benefit stakeholders such as nonprofits, local government agencies, other technical colleges and universities and positively affect an estimated 860 people of low and moderate income.

The college also received $500,000 in Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) tax credits, which will be offered to donors through the college’s capital campaign, Stronger Workforce, Greater Community: A Capital Campaign for the Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center and Center for Excellence. The campaign goal is to raise $10 million to construct the new facility and renovate existing spaces.

To learn more about the Workforce Innovation Center or the Stronger Workforce, Greater Community: A Capital Campaign for the Olen Howard Workforce Innovation Center and Center for Excellence visit www.sfccmo.edu/OHWIC.