‘Magnificent’ career center opens in Clinton

Clinton Career Advancement Center
Trinity Heinrich, in front, a culinary student, helps prepare soup for visitors on Monday, Oct. 24, for the grand opening of the Clinton Career Advancement Center. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

CLINTON, Iowa – The new, almost complete Clinton Career Advancement Center was the center of attention and praise on Monday, Oct. 24.

Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) held a grand opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting event for its new $9 million center that will support career and technical training with 10 classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices and a common area. The 26,700-square-foot career center is located at 1220 11th Ave. South, next to Clinton Community College.

Clinton Career Advancement Center
Clinton Community College President Brian Kelly praises the new Clinton Career Advancement Center in speech on Monday, Oct. 24. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

“I think our students and our community deserve a place this magnificent,” said Clinton Community College President Brian Kelly.

Mr. Kelly added that the center will help local students – and businesses that need skilled workers – by offering a variety of training programs. Those programs include agriculture, automotive technology, construction technology, culinary, engineering technology, education, health care, information technology and welding technology.

“This is a great day. … This is going to fulfill the dreams of our future students,” said Gary DeLacy, superintendent of the Clinton Community School District.

Mr. DeLacy told an audience of more than 100 people that he wished the new center had been in place earlier in his career so more local students could benefit from the training. While he was principal at Camanche (Iowa) High School, he added, he helped teach many students who could have received great training at such a center. 

In those days, one of the only options for that training was for students to make the relatively long drive to EICC’s John T. Blong Technology Center in Davenport. In addition to the drive, there was always the fear that local students would go to the Quad Cities for training, get a job in the Davenport area and not return to the region. One of the center’s goals is to make it possible for students to get training and stay in the Clinton area, he added.

One of the students at the Clinton Career Advancement Center on Monday was Trinity Heinrich of Maquoketa, Iowa. The 17-year-old student at Maquoketa High School is taking culinary classes. She said that she is very impressed with the new career center. “It’s a really nice place. Everything is so new and organized,” she said.

Ms. Heinrich was one of three culinary students serving up soup to visitors Monday. 

In addition to tasting culinary samples, visitors also toured other areas of the center that will host welding, automotive, construction and other classes. 

They also got to see that the career center is still a work in progress. At least one classroom – room 201 – was locked with a sign stating “Construction Area Keep Out.” There are also other unfinished projects in the building. EICC officials said they should be complete in the coming weeks.

Once completed, the center will offer training for high-demand jobs needed in the community. Several speakers Monday said the facility is needed to help people become more employable. Statistics they cited included:

  • 80% of growth within a community comes from the expansion of businesses already in the community, not the addition of new businesses, said Grow Clinton President Andy Sokolovich.
  • Four out of five jobs lost in the last recession were jobs lost by people with no formal education past high school, said Mr. Kelly.
  • 65% of the jobs in the Clinton area require education beyond high school, according to EICC.
  • Only 45% of adults in the region have education or training beyond high school, said Kristen Raney, EICC’s vice chancellor of academic affairs.

“This will help people get good paying jobs and a pathway to further education,” Ms. Raney said of the center.

The career advancement center will also serve area high schools through EICC’s Career Academies program. That program provides high school juniors and seniors with the opportunity to explore desired career paths and receive college-level credits at no cost to the students.

On Monday, officials thanked the people and groups that helped make the career center a reality. “It really took a village to build this facility,” added Mr. Kelly.

Supporters included area school officials, the City of Clinton, businesses and business advocate groups, and especially the voters. Funding for the center was made possible because district voters approved a $40 million bond referendum in March of 2021. Clinton Mayor Scott Maddasion said that because voters approved the bond issue for the career center “this is going to be a game-changer for our community.”

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