BTC may choose Milton to expand
MILTON More than 300 students could be attending a new Blackhawk Technical College campus in Milton in 2014 if plans go forward.
BTC President Tom Eckert said he would ask the BTC Board when it meets later this month to approve a lease of a vacant building that once was home to ANGI Energy Systems.
Eventually, the building could house 700 to 800 students in BTC's advanced manufacturing program. That kind of growth depends on whether enough students embrace manufacturing as a career, Eckert added.
"That'll take some work, and it'll take some time to get there," Eckert said.
If the BTC Board says yes and the Wisconsin Technical College System Board also approves, BTC would begin planning for the renovation of the building at 15 N. Plumb St., Eckert said.
Eckert said Wednesday that he would have lease costs ready for the board when it meets Thursday, Feb. 21.
He said borrowing would pay for renovations. The college is limited to borrowing $1.5 million per project every two years.
A recent environment assessment of the property revealed nothing to rule out the property, Eckert said. That assessment was key to moving forward.
Eckert estimated 325 students could be attending school in the "advanced manufacturing training center" as soon as fall 2014.
The first programs to move to the center would be welding, precision machining, industrial maintenance and automated systems technician.
BTC's engineering program and its heating/ventilation/air conditioning program would probably move in sometime later, Eckert said.
Eckert said he hopes to double the size of the welding program, which now has 85 students.
If 700 or more students becomes a reality, the school would operate in two shifts, Eckert said.
Moving the programs to Milton would vacate space at main campus, located between Beloit and Janesville.
Eckert recently gained board approval to explore the possibility of a referendum for an expansion at the central campus. That expansion could include renovation of spaces vacated by the manufacturing programs, Eckert said.
BTC initially worked with the Beloit-based Hendricks Development Group to renovate about 80,000 square feet of the Iron Works complex in Beloit.
Eckert said earlier that the Beloit facility would require extensive renovation for use as classroom and technical education space.
Given the economy, Eckert said he had difficulty raising the amount of private money such a renovation would require.
The former Burdick/ANGI building, however, would require less in renovation expenses, he said.