MCCTC Breaks Ground on $15M Expansion Project

CANFIELD, Ohio – Looking toward the future, Mahoning County Career & Technical Center broke ground Wednesday on a $15 million expansion project.

MCCTC received $11.4 million in grant money late last year for the project, which was part of funding allocated by the governor’s office to enhance education and training facilities across the state.

The hub-design project, which will be on the east side of MCCTC’s current building, will add a 35,000-square-foot building for in-demand programs such as computer networking and cybersecurity; electricity and automated systems specialists; robotics and engineering; AI systems and software engineering; and welding and industrial maintenance.

“All programs will share curriculum, equipment and student resources, working together on a large-scale project within the 10,000 square foot additional collaborative spaces,” said John Zehentbauer, superintendent of MCCTC.

Business and public sector partners will bring real-world projects to the space for students to use and learn from.

“Along with our business and industry partners, we need to predict what will not be taking place today, but what will happen in five years or 10 years from now,” Zehentbauer said. “We call it the 10% – 10% of everything we do here needs to be focused on future trends. We do not wait for someone else because we do not have that luxury.”

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted speaks during Wednesday’s event.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said the request of more than $300 million that he and Gov. Mike DeWine received for allocation from the Ohio General Assembly came after tours of career centers across the state and learning that they were becoming full of students and having wait lists. Of that total, $100 million is slated for equipment, with the rest going toward expansion of training centers.

Husted said money may not be enough to handle the needs for career training in Ohio.

“The career centers across Ohio are filling up because more and more people are realizing it is the greatest value in education, where you can earn a certification, college credits, industry credentials and then go to work while you are in high school – leave high school with a great career and live your version of the American dream right here in Ohio,” Husted said.

He also said employers are coming to Ohio and recruiting students directly from career centers, right out of high school. He said business owners need more engineers and more people trained in cybersecurity, and those who understand how AI is going to change their business.

Additionally, Husted spoke of the concerns about how many people are retiring in Ohio and the Mahoning Valley compared with the number of people entering the workforce. He believes programs like the ones at MCCTC are important for refueling the talent pipeline in the state.

“Right now, we are creating jobs faster than we can find people to fill them,” Husted said. “We have more jobs than people right now, and you can’t fill a job, you can’t create a job until you have someone ready to take a job.”

An artist’s rendering of the new facility.

Business owners like Mark Lamoncha, CEO of Humtown Products and a member of the Ohio Board of Education, are among those seeking to fill positions with talent. Lamoncha talked about the need to foster the talent of young minds in Ohio.

“They are powerful. Their neuroplasticity can’t be held back by us as employers,” Lamoncha said, adding he has learned it is important to be interested in them long before they become employees.

Alexa Sweeney Blackann, interim CEO of Lake to River Economic Development, the newly established JobsOhio district, attended the groundbreaking and said such educational programs are critical for both legacy and new manufacturing in the region.

“This morning at MCCTC, we’re seeing tangible progress is being made toward an education and workforce development initiative that will pay dividends in our region for decades to come. It’s a literal investment in our future,” she said.

The groundbreaking will not be the last at MCCTC. DeWine and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission on Wednesday announced another $5 million has been allocated to the school through the Appalachia Community Innovation Centers Grant program for a new 12,000-square-foot facility geared toward expanding health care-related education programs.

Pictured at top: From left are Mara Banfield, Valley STEM superintendent and director of MCCTC; John Zehentbauer, superintendent of MCCTC; Brian Rella, treasurer of MCCTC and Valley STEM; Mark Lamoncha, CEO of Humtown Products and board member of the Ohio Department of Education; Beth Donofrio, MCCTC board member; Lt. Gov. Jon Husted; Richard Scarsella, board president of MCCTC; Michael Stanko, MCCTC board member; Chuck George, president of Lake to River’s board of directors; Alexa Sweeney Blackann, Lake to River interim CEO; Maggie Hess, executive director of the Ohio Association of Career and Technical Superintendents; and Mary Mihalopoulos, adult education director at MCCTC.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.