Southern Illinois Overlooked Again – 20 Years Waiting
Southeastern Illinois College just received the most recent state senate budget proposal with capital projects for community colleges included. After a review of those projects, we are disappointed that the project SIC desperately needs and has been promised multiple times was not on the list – the Resource Allocation and Management Plan for the David L. Stanley Center’s Vocational Building in Carmi.
The college has submitted this request as our annual state project for 20 years, following the rules, spanning many boards, and lobbied by multiple CEOs. We have had the project listed in at least two recent state budgets within the past eight years, and we even had a promise a few years ago to build it including all the fanfare only to have it frozen and then left out now once again.
This is a thoughtful project with real workforce benefits. The college has modified the project submission and has had town halls with business and industry in White County to update and improve the original proposals.
The center is vital to our region’s workforce. Currently, we have remodeled areas with precious funds to accommodate a joint Veterinary Assistant program we are offering with Rend Lake College (RLC). Next year, we will offer a Massage Therapy program at the Carmi Center, and we regularly offer certified nursing assistant courses and other vital programs in the center.
We also recently partnered with Southern 14 Local Workforce Investment Board to serve as a One-Stop Center for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act-related services, which will house the Illinois Department of Employment Securities and the Department of Human Services, along with additional services to help individuals with retraining and/or educational opportunities. These partnerships make the center a hotbed of economic activity and training for not only White County but for all of our district and even neighboring college districts.
With these additional programs, we are out of space and cannot offer the more applied vocational training needed such as the proposed welding and diesel training areas. Such a space has been endorsed by industry in White County including Trellborg, Elastec, oil companies, etc.
It was exciting to see so many projects going to our neighboring colleges just to the north, eight projects total for two districts. That is exciting for them and we are happy they made the cut. However, the Carmi Center needs to provide additional training and services beyond what we already offer there, but we cannot afford it without state support.
The funds needed for the David L. Stanley Center are a mere fraction of the total cost of projects listed in the most recent budget proposed. It is minuscule for most but huge for us.
Help make our case with local lawmakers. Ask how SIC can get on that list.
by Dr. Jonah Rice, President of Southeastern Illinois College