A statewide tour of proposed construction projects included a stop Tuesday at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls, where Minnesota lawmakers got a first-hand look at one project and a virtual look at another.
Members of the House Capital Investment Committee met with M State officials as part of a tour of potential construction projects that could be funded in a bonding bill during the Legislature’s 2016 session.
Projects on the M State campuses in Fergus Falls and Wadena are both ranked high on the priority list of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, which governs 31 two-year colleges and four-year universities in the state. The Fergus Falls project is No. 3 on the MnSCU list, and the Wadena project is ranked fourth.
In Fergus Falls, MnSCU is seeking funds for a proposed Center for Student and Workforce Success. By renovating existing library, meeting and classroom space, M State envisions a center that would include services accessible to both campus students and clients of the workforce center.
If the project is funded, offices for the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Rural Minnesota CEP, Veterans Services Someplace Safe, Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, State Services for the Blind and Experience Works (Green Thumb) would be housed on the M State campus.
The estimated total project cost is $1,728,000, with $978,000 requested from the state and $750,000 projected to come from the project’s community partners.
While they were gathered on the Fergus Falls campus, lawmakers got a virtual tour of the Wadena campus project via M State’s high-tech mobile telepresence device. MnSCU is requesting $820,000 to renovate the Wadena campus library to add needed study space and create a more visible and accessible student development center for tutoring and other student support services.
The project also would provide for a reception desk at the main campus entrance and space to accommodate staff who relocated to the Wadena campus after M State closed its leased offices in Perham.
M State President Peggy Kennedy said the college was pleased to host the visit by members of the House Capital Investment Committee and showcase these top bonding priorities.
“As both M State projects are intended to support student success, I am hopeful they will be funded by the 2016 Legislature, and I am most grateful for the community support of these projects,” Kennedy said.
A state Senate panel also could visit the M State campuses as the Legislature prepares to consider a bonding bill during the upcoming session, which convenes in March. Lawmakers typically pass major bonding bills in even-numbered years.