$12M Training Center on Track for March Completion

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Construction on the second phase of the Excellence Training Center at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Commerce Street will soon begin, bringing the $12 million project one step closer to its targeted completion in March.

The building, formerly the Mahoning County Minimum Security Jail, is being remodeled to house traditional and advanced manufacturing machinery. The next phase of the project will be an addition to double the available space to 54,000 square feet.

The foundation is set on the addition. Work is beginning on the western wall facing Fifth Avenue, which is undergoing its own renovation as part of the Smart2 Network. 

David Sipusic, the center’s executive director, says any delays on the project would have occurred while adapting the existing building’s structure.

“[The Youngstown State University facilities department is] telling me sometime by maybe late November, we’ll be under roof, as far as the entire facility and have, at least, the skeleton framework set up,” he says.

Of the project’s total cost, roughly $10 million is going toward the new machinery. YSU received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration in 2017, as well as a $500,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Education to staff the center for two years.

While the facility is expected to be completed in the spring, Sipusic says the university will begin operating programs in the summer. YSU will need to move and recalibrate some of the equipment and adhere to Ohio’s COVID-19 guidelines. Sipusic expects the training center to be fully operational within a year.

“The plan and the hope is to get people in there, utilizing courses and getting training, so we’re excited about that,” Sipusic says.

The Excellence Training Center will have its fair share of advanced manufacturing machinery. Sipusic says the cost for a high-end 3D printer, for example, ranges between $150,000 and $700,000.

“We’ll have traditional machining, CNC machining, sheet metal, robotics,” he says.

Manufacturers in the Youngstown area will also play a part in the programming, according to Sipusic. 

YSU plans on helping companies such as JuggerBot 3D and Rugged 3D, which announced a move from San Francisco to the Youngstown on Sept. 1, find projects and opportunities. Eastern Gateway Community College, who was part of the economic development grant, will also involve students in its skilled trades certification programs.

“It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind, workforce-innovation-education research center,” Sipusic says. “We’re trying to get that all under one roof and to give students, and even workers from existing companies or workers that have been displaced, a chance to come in and get the training and education to work on these advanced machines in various pathways.”

The completion of the Excellence Training Center will mark the end of a seven-year journey. The idea for the facility began with the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition in 2013 when members met with employers and technical schools to find a way to train workers. 

“It’s an important piece, I think, for the ecosystem and Youngstown and the region,” Sipusic says. “We’re excited to be a part of it and come online next year.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.