Construction on the first new building on the Salina Area Technical College campus in 20 years is expected to begin soon, with fundraising efforts continuing after bids on the building were higher than expected.
The Kansas Board of Regents recently approved the college’s new Industrial Maintenance and Automation program, which will be housed in the new 15,000 square-foot building, and the college’s Board of Trustees has also approved the bid of $5.2 million from Harbin Construction for the building. Building completion is scheduled for December 2024.
Even though Harbin was the lowest bid, it was still roughly $1 million higher than expected, said Salina Tech President Greg Nichols.
“Opening the bids was kind of a surprise,” Nichols said. “But with inflation continuing to rise, the Board decided to move forward rather than try to scale back our plans.”
Nichols said community support remains strong in recent months, including the Salina Airport Authority’s donation of two lots totaling 3.27 acres to house the new building and future campus expansion.
Tim Rogers, Executive Director of the Salina Airport Authority, said the Authority “welcomed an opportunity to support the growth of the programs at Salina Area Technical College. Salina Tech’s growth is a key component to recruiting and training a skilled workforce for Saline County businesses.”
Other organizations have supported the project in various ways, including Vortex Companies Videographer/Photographer Tanner Colvin spending numerous hours recording and editing a series of videos about the building project and the IMA program, featuring President Nichols, Exline, Inc. President Will Exline and Vortex Companies Welding Lead Luke Doll, who graduated from the college’s Welding Technology program in 2016.
Brenda Gutierrez, Executive Director of the Salina Tech Foundation, said that given the higher-than-expected building bids, the fundraising goal to build the building and equip the program is now $6 million, about 80 percent of which has been raised or pledged.
“We’re having ongoing talks with several more potential donors,” Gutierrez said. “And of course smaller donations are welcome.”
Gutierrez said donations to the project still qualify for both matching by former Salinan Damon Button, who has pledged to match new donations up to a total of $400,000 in memory of his parents Robert and Aileen Button – and for a 60 percent tax credit from the State of Kansas.
“What that means is that for every dollar you donate, Salina Tech gets two dollars, and it could cost you as little as 40 cents, depending on your tax situation,” Gutierrez said.