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Danville BCTC still in running for workforce development funding

The plan for an advanced manufacturing center at Danville’s Bluegrass Community and Technical College campus has survived another round and is still in the running for $4.5 million in state funding.

The proposed expansion to the college is one of the 24 remaining finalists for funding through the state’s Work Ready workforce development grant program.

BCTC had originally requested $5 million to build the center, but Campus Director Erin Tipton said the amount needed has decreased “because the community stepped up in a big way and gave us a 13-percent match.”

In order to be eligible for grant funding, projects must have 10 percent of the requested funds provided from local sources. In BCTC’s case, that means local governments, businesses and other agencies had to commit at least $500,000.

“In total, our local and regional governments, banking institutions and industrial partners contributed a total of $565,000 in matching funds towards the total project to construct the Regional Advanced Manufacturing Center,” Tipton previously said.

Danville City Commission, Boyle County Fiscal Court, member agencies of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership, area industries and BCTC have committed funds in order to meet that match.

Tipton said one reason she believes the project has survived this far in the state grant process is they can start working on the project the instant funding is available, she said.

“We are shovel-ready,” Tipton said last week. “We can put a shovel in the ground in the spring … I think that’s the other thing that makes our project very competitive.”

If the college gets the funding to build its advanced manufacturing center, it would effectively double the college’s capacity for graduating students in the fields of advanced manufacturing technology, electrical technology and industrial maintenance technology, Tipton said previously. She also said the advanced manufacturing center would be built on 20 acres of land the school already owns.

“We anticipate a final decision/notification from the state by the end of this month,” Tipton previously said.

A total of $65 million in grants is expected to be awarded this year, with another $35 million available in a second round next year.

If BCTC does not receive the funding this year, they will re-apply for the second round of funding in 2017, when $35 million will be on the table, she said.  

If they don’t receive the funding in 2017, they will start a capital campaign to raise funds for the advanced manufacturing center from the community, she said.  

“The communities have stepped up in a big way. $4.5 million is a lot of money to raise but I think we can do it,” Tipton said.  

The school districts in Casey and Garrard counties, who were in the running to receive funding through Kentucky’s new workforce development grant fund did not make the list of 24 finalists.  

The Casey County School District put forth an $8.5 million “multifaceted plan,” which includes a renovation project and expanded class offerings. The proposal would expand programs at the Casey County Area Technology Center.

The Garrard County School District put forth a $2.5 million proposal that would expand career offerings for high school students and community members.