From Staff Reports
ALEXANDRIA – What several local state officials have called the most important legislation of the 2013 Legislative Session, was signed into law Monday.
Gov. Bobby Jindal joined Senator Robert Adley, R-Benton, Bossier Parish Community College Chancellor Jim Henderson and other representatives from the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) at Central Louisiana Technical Community College to sign legislation that will provide funding for projects at community and technical colleges across Louisiana.
Senate Bill 204 — authored by Senator Adley — provides $251.6 million in financing and construction for 29 projects at Louisiana Community and Technical College campuses.
“Through this investment, we’ve improved campuses and learning environments for students across the state because we know the community and technical college system is a critical pipeline for ensuring that we have highly skilled workers in Louisiana,” said Jindal.
Locally, BPCC will benefit in the form of a new $18 million STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathmatics) building.
The building will focus on the fastest growing, highest paying, and highest in demand fields — healthcare, cyber technology, and engineering.
“We have nationally recognized programs like our cyber programs, nursing programs, and allied health programs, that require quality spaces. Our ability to provide a workforce that will meet the need of our employers is only limited by our ability to create physical access for our students,” Chancellor Henderson previously told the Bossier Press-Tribune.
Twelve percent of the $251.6 million ($34.3 million) will come from local, private matching funds. Included in the 29 projects are: 25 workforce projects; three student testing, career and service centers and one safety related project.
The legislation requires a local match of $1 million from BPCC. Henderson said the school would look at a number of sources for those funds, noting that employers are willing to invest in programs that are producing a return on that investment.
Many of the projects will build new workshops and training areas for students in key industries like nursing, welding, aviation, construction and information technology.
BPCC’s new STEM building is set to begin construction after July 1, 2014.
“This legislation will modernize facilities and provide the training necessary for our graduates to gain access to not only good jobs, but some of the best jobs in the state. It will also enable us to maintain the course-one of unprecedented enrollment growth, record numbers of graduates, and 21st Century program development aligned with business and industry,” said LCTCS President Joe May.
In addition, more than 5,300 new training stations will be added statewide, increasing the total training stations available by 59 percent to over 14,400 stations.
The added stations will increase students served in high pay, high demand workforce areas by 63 percent, totaling nearly 41,000 students who will now receive job training each semester.