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State Technical College of Missouri has received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration intended to help establish a new Utility Technician Training Facility at the Linn campus.

The new facility will provide a training center for existing State Tech programs like the utility system technician, nuclear energy and electrical distribution programs.

State Tech has been considering the building for around three years to help increase the number of students the college is able to accept into those programs, university spokesman Brandon McElwain said.

"It's a huge growing need. Missouri's workforce has a huge need for these skilled workers," McElwain said. "We worked with a lot of different companies across the state to make sure that we're graduating students that are in high demand, and they're in such high demand that they're able to help us through grants."

The EDA grant will be matched by $4.5 million in local investments, according to a news release from the Department of Commerce — $2 million from the state and $2.5 from private fundraising.

State Tech President Shawn Strong said the project has been in the works with support from the governor's office, General Assembly and other partners for some time, and he pointed to Jonesburg-based Sellenriek Construction as a particularly helpful partner.

"We are grateful our elected officials and the EDA agree this project will play a significant role in the education and training of technicians to go to work in high-demand, high-paying utility positions," Strong said. "This grant will help solidify State Tech's position as one of the premier colleges in the nation for utility technology education."

The grant and the resulting facility are expected to help create 500 jobs as students graduate from the programs. State Tech has had a job placement rate for graduates of 97 percent or higher since 1995.

The facility will be built on the back side of campus near an existing multipurpose building that currently houses some of the programs which will move to the new building.

One of the features of the facility will be an indoor climbing lab for the lineman or electrical distribution system program, where students learn to climb utility poles.

McElwain said they haven't set an exact date yet for the ground-breaking of the new facility.

Earlier this semester, State Tech was also named as the top two-year college in the country by WalletHub, and the college had a record-breaking fall enrollment of more than 1,700 students.

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