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Funding advanced manufacturing center a huge win for region

EDITORIAL

The Advocate-Messenger

The regional community surrounding the Danville campus of Bluegrass Community and Technical College has achieved something truly remarkable: Governments, industry and individuals have combined their efforts to contribute $1 million to the college, for construction of a new advanced manufacturing center.

It’s an investment they didn’t have to make, but it’s an investment that will be necessary for the area to thrive economically in the future. Those who saw the need, understood the importance and stepped up to help will be viewed very kindly by history.

Once it’s built, the advanced manufacturing center will double the college’s capacity to produce highly qualified graduates for in-demand areas such as industrial maintenance, advanced manufacturing and electrical technology. It will teach area residents the skills they need to land high-paying jobs now and well into the future.

New graduates are expected to make an average salary of almost $40,000, with many making “closer to $50,000 to $55,000 a year,” according to BCTC Director Dr. Erin Tipton.

Boyle and quite a few surrounding counties will become more attractive to prospective industrial businesses who need workers with the skills BCTC is teaching. Existing businesses have an added incentive to grow here instead of somewhere else; or even just stick around instead of relocating.

The new center will also benefit local high-school students, by increasing the capacity for high-school dual credit enrollment by 289 percent.

In many rural Kentucky communities, the future doesn’t look so bright. Populations will continue to grow in urban areas and shrink in rural areas, and jobs will go wherever there are people.

The advanced manufacturing center is an opportunity to stymie those potential losses and create new growth for a region that might otherwise see itself shrinking in the lengthening shadow of Lexington.

Among those who looked ahead and gave today are the Boyle County Fiscal Court, the Boyle County Industrial Foundation and the City of Danville, all of whom contributed more than $100,000.

Caterpillar Inc. may have left its Danville plant, but it also left a big donation of more than $50,000 to the BCTC project, along with the Corning Inc. Foundation, the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Industrial Development Authority, Inter-County Energy and the Whitaker Foundation.

Contributors who gave $10,000 or more are Develop Danville, Farmers National Bank, Hitachi Automotive Systems, Kentucky Trust Company, Danville Rotary and the Stanford-Lincoln County Industrial Development Authority.

Smaller contributors of $1,000 or more are Alan Turbyfill, American Greetings, Central Kentucky Regional Jobs Training, the City of Harrodsburg, Denyo Manufacturing, Hobart, PBK Bank, Stephen and Dorothy Rinehart, Robinson Hughes & Christopher, William Shaver, Damon Talley, Tarter, Trim Masters Charitable Foundation and Richard Webb.

And there were 18 smaller gifts ranging in value from $600 to as little as $20.

Every contribution, no matter how small, helped the entire community reach the $1 million mark. And accomplishing that means many millions more for local workers and the economy.