Students at Ozarks Technical Community College will start the fall semester with a new facility that’s focused on advanced manufacturing.
The college held a grand opening Monday for the Robert W. Plaster Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
OTC leaders said the $40 million, 120,000 square foot facility will focus on training the Ozarks’ workforce for jobs of the future. The PMC will be home to seven of the college’s technical training programs, including:
- Automation and Robotics
- Drafting and Design
- Information Technology Infrastructure
- Manufacturing Technology
- Precision Machining
Additionally, 15,000 square feet of the PMC is reserved as Industry Partner Space. Local companies may use the facility for activities such as training employees, creating operational processes for new equipment and conducting research and development.
At the grand opening, the college announced that DT Engineering of Lebanon, Mo. would be the first business to take advantage of the space. DT Engineering is expected to begin using the Industry Partner Space later this fall.
“We started thinking about this eight years ago,” said OTC Chancellor Dr. Hal Higdon. “We got our strategic plan together with the voters in 2018. They overwhelmingly approved the tax to build this building.”
The Plaster Manufacturing Center, Higdon said, will help with the future of manufacturing as a whole.
“We have over 20,000 manufacturing jobs in southwest Missouri,” said Higdon. “This building was built to support those industries and to get people skilled up to go to work in high-paying jobs. Whether it be robotics, mechatronics, drafting designs.”
Higdon said employees seeking this type of career could come out of the program making $70,000 to $80,000 a year.
No center like this exists close by, he said, with the Ozarks leading the way.
“People will start trying to catch up,” said Higdon. “They’re already wanting to build them in St. Louis and Kansas City. People will be attracted to come to the Ozarks to get the kind of training they can’t get anywhere else.”
Based on a 2017 economic impact study, OTC projects that over a decade, the Plaster Manufacturing Center’s economic impact on the region will be more than $400 million.
More than one hundred institutions and individuals contributed to the Plaster Manufacturing Center project.
OTC leaders said they built the facility to be easily toured.
They hope it will persuade younger people to go into the field in the future.