ST. GEORGE – After waiting 10 years for a permanent home, Dixie Applied Technology College is $31.9 million closer to that goal, and president Kelle Stephens is ecstatic.
The Utah Legislature approved the funding during its 2015 General Session as part of a $14.4 billion budget which was proposed by Gov. Gary R. Herbert in December 2014, and officially approved late Thursday.
“We’ve been waiting a long time,” said DXATC President Kelle Stephens. “We’ve been in existence for 15 years, and we’ve been asking for (this funding) for 10 years,” Stephens said.
“It’s hard to even find words to explain how I’m feeling,” Stephens said. “I’m excited for the building, for sure, but I’m more excited for what the building is going to do for the students and for the business community – it’s a game changer for Washington County.”
The college has operated out of leased space scattered “here and there around the valley” ever since DXATC’s creation in 2001, Stephens said. The new building would house all of the DXATC programs in one structure.
The building is planned to be 177,000 square feet and include both a professional wing and an industrial wing. The estimated price tag is $44.9 million. With state funding of $31.9 million, DXATC must cover the remaining $13 million.
One wing of the new building would be for industrial programs such as welding, manufacturing and diesel technology; and the other wing would house professional courses including medical assisting, nurse assistant certification, phlebotomy and electrocardiogram technicians and more.
DXATC currently has 20 accredited programs, Stephens said, all based on industry demand.
The project will be built on a 30-acre piece of land already owned by the college, at the site of the old St. George Airport. The site is now called the Ridge Top Complex, and is located on the Black Ridge west of downtown St. George. The new building will be located just north of the old Skywest Airlines terminal, which is now DXATC’s Emergency Response Training Center.
Stephens said the next step in the process will be working closely with Utah Division of Facilities and Construction Management to select an architect and a general contractor, and finalize the design. Groundbreaking is anticipated by early fall with completion of the project by spring 2017.
“And we still have to bring $13 million to the table, so we will be very anxiously engaged in that,” Stephens said.
That funding will come from donors, bonding or ‘shelling,’ that is, building the exterior part of a building and then finishing the interior as funds become available, Stephens said. DXATC will do as much as they can with private donations, before resorting to other funding methods.
Fundraising efforts are already underway.
“Stephen Wade has accepted that responsibility,” Stephens said, “and that’s a huge responsibility, to raise that money. He’s put some money in privately already, and he is talking with people of means who we hope will come forward and add to what he’s already put in.”
Wade is a DXATC board member, of whom Stephens said, “He is very passionate about what we do, and sees and understands the critical need and was gracious and bold enough to say, ‘I’ll do this for you.'”
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