CEDAR CITY — Southwest Applied Technology College held its groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for a new $19.3 million building projected for completion fall 2015.
Legislative leadership and project funding
Funding for the project has taken seven years to pull together with the help of many legislators and community members, former SWATC President Dana Miller said.
The 11-acre plot was donated by landowners Prestwitch and Graff families of Cedar City, who originally hoped the property would become home to a school.
Former state Rep. Bud Bowman and Sen. Dennis Stowell, both now deceased, spearheaded the project in the Legislature seven years ago.
Rep. John Westwood said the legislative leaders had numerous projects brought to them for consideration that together were worth billions of dollars. The list of projects was narrowed to 30 with the SWATC building as the No. 2 project and later moved to No. 1 on their list.
Projects SWATC took precedence over for legislative funding include court corrections, state parks and state crime labs, Miller said.
“We’re just glad we didn’t have to compete with SUU,” he said, referring to Southern Utah University also located in Cedar City.
Miller extended public thanks to SUU President Scott Wyatt and his wife, who were present at the groundbreaking, and also thanked SUU for its support of the SWATC building project.
The project has been political, complicated and competitive, Sen. Evan Vickers said at the groundbreaking.
SWATC and community gain
When the project began its process of acceptance, local, state and worldwide leaders lobbied legislative leaders to approve the project.
The SWATC board of directors is comprised of individuals who represent regional business, industry and educational partners. Among those disciplines the new building will accommodate training for are health care, auto technology, auto maintenance and manufacturing.
“We look at what programs should be offered and that info is used, approved and given a budget,” board Chairman Dennis Moser said.
The overwhelming support came for industrial engineering in light of growing demands for the manufacturing industry in the Cedar City area.
“The building represents those needs expressed over the years,” Moser said. “The programs have been thought out, planned and completed to go with certificates.”
About 70 percent of the jobs coming to Cedar City are requiring technical training, Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson said.
The programs offered in the new building will help many Cedar City residents, Wilson said. High school students will be able to start training at a younger age when their minds can be shaped for their futures, training that allows them to go out and get a job in industry particular to their needs.
SWATC allows for living wage for people to provide money, resoures and the ability to raise a family while staying in Cedar City, Wilson said.
“As a city perspective, opportunities such as this are invaluable to our community and so we are indeed grateful for all of the hard work of so many,” she said. “It has not taken one or two people, it has taken a community to have this building to be to where we are today.”
MSC Aerospace and subsidiaries Metalcraft Technologies and SyberJet Aircraft have made a 20-year agreement to operate in Cedar City and will bring approximately 1,200 jobs to the area, MSC Aerospace CEO Whitney Clayton said. Information was provided in legislative hearings showing how the companies would benefit through the new SWATC building project, including what types of jobs, skills and wages might derive from the SWATC training.
“President Miller and I looked at each other and said ‘these are not jobs flipping burgers,’” Clayton said. “MSC Aerospace is building one of the most technologically advanced products, the most sophisticated jets for business, commercial and military jet customers in the world.”
Any airplane has parts from MSC Aersospace, Clayton said. The company has been constructing jets for the likes of Cessna Aircraft for the past 25 years. The company has acquired all the rights and intellectual property to build the most advanced light business jet ever made, the SJ30, Clayton said.
“No other jet in its category can fly as high, far, fast, be as fuel efficient and comfortable as this jet,” he said. “We will be building that here in Cedar City.”
MSC Aerospace has made a commitment to the community of Iron County and Cedar City, Clayton said, and will train workers for 1,200 jobs.
New SWATC President Brennan Wood said the project is an outward expression of the future of the applied technology college.
Contractors and designers
Method Studio Inc. and Hughes General Contractors will build and design the new building while Utah’s Division of Facilities Construction and Management will facilitate the project.
“We want to make sure during the building process that the quality is efficient, that it is energy efficient and it keeps the air in good quality,” DFCM Director Josh Haines said.
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