(ABILENE) – Texas State Technical College’s expansion on Abilene’s east side is expected to be a magnet for growth.
“I think anytime you have a new building, it is going to generate interest,” said Rick Denbow, provost of TSTC in Abilene. “People start thinking about relocating or bringing in their company. If they see activity going on, they think this is the place to be.”
Construction on the 56,000-square-foot Industrial Technology Center on Loop 322 next to Abilene Regional Airport began in June 2017 and is scheduled to be completed in time for the first day of the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 27. The building is the first on what is planned to be a 51-acre campus.
The ITC will have new technical programs for Electrical Power and Controls, Industrial Maintenance and Welding. The Emergency Medical Services program will move to the new building from its current location on East Highway 80.
The new programs factor into Abilene’s desire to build its workforce. Jobs in nursing, physical therapy, equipment service and maintenance, and computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining were some of the hardest to fill, according to a March 2016 economic development strategic plan created for the Development Corporation of Abilene.
Some of the general industries targeted for recruitment by the DCOA include advanced manufacturing, healthcare and food processing, according to the strategic plan.
“I think as we get that building built, it is going to help the economic development folks in Abilene recruit industry,” Denbow said.
The Abilene Industrial Foundation is currently marketing a 35-acre, shovel-ready plot on Maple Street less than five minutes from the airport and TSTC’s Industrial Technology Center. And, the foundation is developing the 21-acre Access Business Park at the intersection of Farm Road 18 and Texas Highway 36 near the airport.
Justin Jaworski, executive director of the Abilene Industrial Foundation, said TSTC is a fundamental piece of the city’s economic development plan.
“The eventuality will be that TSTC provides a reliable and dynamic pipeline for a trained workforce that will be able to — on-demand — meet whatever needs are requested in Abilene,” he said.
The campus is being included in the airport’s revised master plan, which looks ahead up to 20 years.
“We are envisioning commercial development on that side of the airport,” said Don Green, director of transportation services for the city of Abilene. “We were already working toward that before the TSTC project came about a little over a year and a half ago. This project fits in with it. We hope the campus will act as a bit of a catalyst for increasing activity over there and will help us in developing and marketing that area.”
Imperial Construction Inc. of Weatherford is using local subcontractors where possible to construct the building, which has a structural steel frame, heavy-gauge framing, and metal siding and sheathing. The construction and design costs total $12 million, with an additional $3.4 million in equipment and furniture. The building was designed by Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, which has offices in Abilene and throughout Texas.
Future campus building construction will be subject to review by the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that height does not interfere with protected airspace, said Green.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.