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Heartland seeks state funding for 2 new buildings to expand workforce training

Man seated at table looking at brochure
Eric Stock
/
WGLT
Keith Cornille Heartland Community College president, discusses the college's 2023 facilities master plan that seeks funding for a new health sciences center and a technical education building.

Months after Heartland Community College opened two new training facilities, it's discussing plans for two new buildings and renovations to an existing building.

The college in Normal is requesting funding through the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s RAMP [Resource Allocation and Management Program] for a new health sciences center and a new career and a technical education building.

Heartland president Keith Cornille described the projects as long term and said already are several years in the making. He noted the college’s facilities master plan adopted in 2020 identified the need for more instructional space to meet demands of the current workforce.

“These projects are a result of that plan,” Cornille said in an interview on WGLT's Sound Ideas.

Recently, Heartland opened a new $23 million agriculture complex and a $17 million manufacturing training facility that includes an electric vehicle lab.

Cornille said the proposed 69,000-square foot health sciences center is designed to help the college expand its offerings in nursing, radiography and physical therapy among other subjects, and develop new programs as area workforce needs arise.

Cornille said several programs that would use the new space already have a waiting list for students.

“That’s why we are looking at new spaces to enhance the kind of educational experience we can have for the occupations we know are going to be growing in our region,” Cornille said.

The health sciences center has a projected cost of $52.4 million.

A new career and technical education building, estimated at 71,000 square feet, would enable the college to expand its offerings in welding, carpentry and other programs currently held at its manufacturing center.

That building has a projected price tag of $52 million.

The college also plans to renovate 19,000 square feet of existing space in the Instructional Commons Building for new science labs. Cornille said the college has started work on that project, estimated at $6 million, and will use the money from the college’s ongoing borrowing for capital projects to pay for renovations if state funding is not approved.

Cornille said Heartland would get 75% of the costs covered if IBHE approves the projects, adding Heartland plans to keep renewing its requests in future years; the college will seek other funding sources, too.

There’s no timeline for construction of the health sciences center and career and technical education building.

State budget

Cornille said Heartland expects to see a slight increase in state funding in the new $53 billion state budget Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law last week. It includes an increase of about 2% funding for community colleges.

Cornille noted the college will likely lose some state funding this year through a program that helped students pursuing careers in health care, but he said that was pandemic-related funding, and the college didn't expect it to be permanent.

Enrollment

While many schools face uncertain enrollment for the upcoming year due to new federal student aid rules, Cornille said that does not appear to be hurting Heartland’s projections for the fall.

“We have not seen an adverse correlation between the FAFSA situation that’s going on and our enrollments,” he said, adding the college’s projected enrollment for the fall is ahead of last year’s pace.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.