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ACC seeks $2.4M for manufacturing, welding remodels

ALPENA — Alpena Community College is applying for a U.S. Department of Commerce Public Works Program grant to update several portions of the campus and bolster a pair of popular trade programs.

ACC President Don MacMaster said the $2.4 million grant would pay 80% of the cost of updating and outfitting the defunct auto body lab so manufacturing classes can move in. He said modern equipment and tools would be installed, as would new heating and cooling equipment and other improvements.

The former manufacturing section of the school would be revamped for students in the welding classes. MacMaster said the current welding area is adjacent to the manufacturing room and the project would double the size instructors and students have to work and learn.

“These areas were built in the 1970s and are small, dark, and not very appealing,” he said. “These are two very popular programs and there are a lot of elements that are not the way they are needed to be.”

MacMaster said the college would be required to pay $600,000 toward the projected $3 million project. Typically, such grants cover 50% of a project’s cost, but the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act added funds to the grants.

He said new investment in the campus and improving two programs that lead to good-paying jobs for graduates fit with what ACC is trying to accomplish at a high level.

“These programs are robust, and there are a lot of job opportunities in these fields,” MacMaster said. “Improving the infrastructure and these programs is sort of in the college’s sweet spot in what we are trying to do right now.”

Lee Shirey, formerly of Target Alpena, the city’s economic development firm, is helping the college make its best case for the money. Shirey is now employed by the Department of Commerce.

“Lee has always had an interest in Alpena and is very familiar with the college,” MacMaster said. “He has helped us put the proposal together from the ground up, and has been invaluable.”

MacMaster said the grant application will be submitted before the end of June, but he was unsure when the federal government would make a decision on the application.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.

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