Ozarks Technical Community College held the grand opening for the 120,000 square foot, $40 million Robert W. Plaster Center for Advanced Manufacturing on Monday, August 15.
The future of manufacturing and technical education in the state made its debut at Ozarks Technical Community College today, Monday, August 15. The college hosted the grand opening of the Robert W. Plaster Center for Advanced Manufacturing (PMC). The PMC is the largest building project in OTC’s history.
“We have people who want to go to work, and now we have people who will be trained to go to work,” said Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe. “There are thousands and thousands of young men and women who will benefit from the Plaster Manufacturing Center.”
The $40 million, 120,000 square foot facility will focus on training the Ozarks’ workforce for jobs of the future. The PMC will be home to seven of the college’s technical training programs, including:
- Automation and Robotics
- Drafting and Design
- Information Technology Infrastructure
- Manufacturing Technology
- Precision Machining
Additionally, 15,000 square feet of the PMC is reserved as Industry Partner Space. Local companies may use the facility for activities such as training employees, creating operational processes for new equipment, and conducting research and development. At the grand opening, the college announced that DT Engineering of Lebanon, Mo. would be the first business to take advantage of the space. DT Engineering is expected to begin using the Industry Partner Space later this fall.
“We envisioned the Plaster Manufacturing Center to be an economic catalyst to the entire region,” said Dr. Hal Higdon, OTC chancellor. “As the first advanced manufacturing training facility in the state, the PMC will not only educate the next generation of workers, but it will attract new businesses to the area looking to hire these highly skilled graduates.”
Based on a 2017 economic impact study, OTC projects that over a decade, the Plaster Manufacturing Center’s economic impact on the region will be more than $400 million.
The project began on April 3, 2018, when voters approved a 5-cent property tax increase for the college. The new tax brought OTC’s levy to 20 cents – still the lowest of any community college in the state. OTC promised voters that if they approved the tax, the college would, among other things, build a state-of-the-art training center focused on advanced manufacturing. OTC broke ground on the building at the corner of Chestnut Expressway and National Avenue in Springfield on Nov. 12, 2020.
The state government and private donors have made significant investments in the PMC. Between the MoExcels Workforce Initiative and other state funding, the State of Missouri contributed a little more than $12 million to the Plaster Manufacturing Center.
“There is no end to the possibilities for this community. There is no end to the educational opportunities, business opportunities and workforce opportunities,” said State Senator Lincoln Hough. “We hear all of the time that we’re short on workers. This facility is how we change that.”
Emerson made the first donation to the PMC. A St. Louis-based manufacturer, Emerson has operations in Lebanon and Ava. The Robert W. Plaster Foundation is a long-time OTC supporter, and in the fall of 2020, the foundation’s contribution secured the naming rights to the facility.
“My father’s name is on the outside of this building, and we were able to give some money to make this building a reality,” said Stephen Plaster, Robert W. Plaster’s son. “But the guy that deserves credit for this building is Hal Higdon. This will stand as a testament to Dr. Higdon for years and years.”
More than one hundred institutions and individuals contributed to the Plaster Manufacturing Center project. Their names are prominently featured on the donor wall at the main entrance to the building.
The PMC will open for fall classes on Monday, August 22.