GREENVILLE — On the former site of the Montcalm County 4-H Fairgrounds, a place where children and adults previously worked together every summer creating lifelong memories, a new facility will be built where people young and old can learn together towards a goal of higher education.
On Tuesday afternoon, representatives from Montcalm Community College (MCC), along with many other involved groups, officially broke ground on the new MCC Advanced Technology Center in front of more than 80 spectators.
“It’s an exciting time for MCC, there’s no doubt about that,” MCC President Bob Ferrentino said. “It’s an exciting time for the city of Greenville … and I also think it’s an exciting time for all of Montcalm County residents, in terms of what we can offer at this location in addition to our main campus.”
According to Ferrentino, the new campus will become a learning destination for students pursuing health careers.
He said the college also will establish renewable energy studies in its new facility and will pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which he said will demonstrate the college’s concern for supporting a sustainable environment for the community.
Other features will include technology labs for advanced manufacturing applications, flexible classrooms for access to university-level courses, community areas featuring computer stations for student and public use, inviting spaces to conduct informal meetings and wireless high-speed Internet connection.
“It has taken us all working together to build a better future,” Ferrentino said. “The end product that will rise on this site is a direct result of that hard work, that collaborative effort by many people working closely together to benefit the entire community.”
MCC was awarded up to $3 million in state of Michigan capital outlay funds.
According to Ferrentino, that investment puts the college halfway to funding the $5.4 million project, which also includes renovation to the existing Michigan Technical Education Center (M-TEC) on the college’s Greenville campus.
Yellow Jacket Drive will also be extended to Hillcrest Street at its intersection with Orange Street, allowing for more traffic flow to and from the new facility.
Greenville City Manager George Bosanic said the new facility will be a “tremendous opportunity” for the city.
“I’m sure everyone knows the challenges we’ve had over the many years, but this is one of the opportunities and I expect that there are going to be more going forward,” Bosanic said. “There’s stability here in terms of the facility that was built a few years back and now we are expanding onto it. It’s going to bring a lot more people to the area.”
Bosanic said the new facility is necessary for Greenville to compete with the rest of the world.
“This brings the convenience and accessibility of MCC to Greenville residents,” he said. “As we go forward we have to look at every opportunity and make the most of them because we are in stiff competition with the rest of the world. We’ve got to do the best that we can to have the most opportunities that we can possibly make to make things happen here in Greenville.”
For State Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, and State Rep. Rick Outman, R-Six Lakes, standing on the former 4-H grounds was a trip back in time to days as members of 4-H.
“I spent a week of my childhood here every summer here on these fairgrounds and how nice to see that we are continuing our efforts for our young people and our senior educated folks, our lifelong learners,” Emmons said. “We know that our community colleges are a real jewel. They are what hold our community together.”
Outman said he couldn’t see a better use for the land than to be once again used for students and adults in the area, this time for higher learning.
“It does seem strange to be here and not be showing horses, but this is a nice use of this ground,” Outman said. “I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this. This is a very valuable thing for our area and it isn’t just an inexpensive form of education. It’s a quality education at a quality price.”