Salina Tech New Program / New Building

As manufacturing becomes more automated, the need for employees skilled at setting up and maintaining that machinery also grows.

To help meet that developing need, Salina Are Technical College is planning on launching an Industrial Maintenance and Automation program, and has secured a $1.8 million grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce to fund roughly half the cost of a new 15,000 square-foot building to house the program.

Salina Tech President Greg Nichols said the grant requires the college raise an equal amount in matching funds, and progress on that is already showing results, most notably a donation of $200,000 from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation will get us on our way toward funding the project. The Foundation has been instrumental in supporting the college through various avenues and this donation was part of their commitment to bolstering technical education in their service area.

The terms of the state grant allow donations of equipment to count towards the match, Nichols said, and several companies across the region are planning such donations, but no dollar value has been put on those items yet. In addition, Saline County has pledged $90,000 to the project.

“That still leaves us with a substantial amount of funds to raise,” Nichols said. “Now that we know we have the state funding, we’re starting to call on potential donors, especially local companies that will benefit from having employees with the skills this Industrial Maintenance and Automation program will teach.”

As an additional incentive, Nichols said, donations to the building fund are eligible for a 60 percent tax credit on Kansas income taxes, in addition to being deductible; under the right circumstances, a donation could offset a larger portion of a contributors tax bill.

Nichols said the college’s Board of Trustees will be asked to make some decisions at its January 23 meeting, such as whether to use a design-build process or hire an architect. He anticipates having a design ready for bidding as early as April.