New MCCTC Building to Help Serve More Students

CANFIELD, Ohio – An $11.4 million state grant will fund a 39,000-square-foot building at the Mahoning County Career & Technical Center and serve 125 additional students.

The career-tech center will select an architect, and ground will be broken in mid-2024. The new building is expected to open in fall 2026.

“Last year, our programs were filling up, especially electricity, welding, cybersecurity and computer science programs,” said Superintendent John Zehentbauer. “We were looking at moving students around and students not being able to have the opportunity to take those programs.”

By constructing a new building, more students will be able to enroll in those high-demand programs. Robotics and AI programs will also be expanded.

MCCTC was one of 25 schools in the state to receive a portion of the $200 million in Career Technical Expansion grant money that Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted allocated to expand education and training facilities to serve more students.

MCCTC secured letters of support from industry professionals and provided its own enrollment data in the grant application.

“The workforce is in desperate need of good employees across the board,” the superintendent said. “These are all in-demand jobs that are very important to our community and our local growth, so the governor’s office thought it was very important to ensure kids and young adults would have access to these programs.”

Additional staff will be hired, and existing staff will be moved to instruct the added students.

“It’s really a great time to be in career tech,” Zehentbauer said. 

MCCTC serves both students who choose to enroll in college and those who enter the workforce immediately after high school graduation.

“But the big piece is we see kids getting right out of high school and getting the high-wage jobs,” Zehentbauer said. “It’s some of the best I’ve seen in my 32 years here.”

The new building will be behind the center, next to its energy center that was completed last month.

“The neat thing we’re really excited about is this will have a huge collaboration area in the middle,” Zehentbauer said. 

Students will be able to work together on many projects.

With moving the programs into the new building, it will free up space in the main building that will allow growth too.

The total project cost is about $14 million. The $11.4 million grant includes $1.5 million for equipment. The remainder will come from in-kind donations and MCCTC funds.

“We’re also working on some capital budget projects that will be in addition to this, along with workforce development funds to purchase other equipment,” he said.

Things are constantly changing and evolving, so the center must be proactive in preparing for the future.

“Our staff really takes pride in thinking ahead to what’s going to be in five years” in terms of equipment and industry needs, the superintendent said.

Cosmetology remains the program with the largest enrollment, but on the manufacturing side, welding and electricity are in high demand.

At the time of the grant application, 39 students applied for 25 spots in the welding program, for example. 

MCCTC works with a 250-member business advisory council that helps ensure students have the skills needed for available jobs. 

“They are dedicated,” Zehentbauer said. “They put a lot of time and effort into helping us. We have large corporations that have been tremendous in helping us design these programs.”

That drives much of how the programs are designed.

“We’re making a product …,” he said. “We’re making a product for business and industry, and we want our students to be as marketable as possible.”

The center strikes a balance between meeting students’ interests and industry’s needs.

“My thought is that when you create a student that the industry wants, you have also helped that student,” Zehentbauer said. “You’ve given that student the best gift in the world to be an excellent student and an excellent worker. That gives them all the latitude in the world. They’re in control.”

Pictured at top: John Zehentbauer, superintendent of MCCTC.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.