Dixie Applied Technical College set to begin work on new campus

ST. GEORGE — Dixie Applied Technical College broke ground on the future home of the school in January, and barring any setbacks, construction for the multi-million dollar college will begin Monday.


Read more: Dixie Applied Technical College breaks ground on new campus


DXATC Emergency Response Training Center located at the Ridge Top Complex located at 610 S. Airport Road in St. George, Utah, April 20, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
DXATC Emergency Response Training Center located at the Ridge Top Complex at 610 S. Airport Road, St. George, Utah, April 20, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

At a St. George Chamber of Commerce Community Connect luncheon held on Wednesday, Kelle Stephens, president of DXATC, gave a presentation about the school and discussed the future plans for the expansion project, which will be located at the Ridge Top Complex on S. Airport Road.

Founded in 2001, Dixie Applied Technical College had 7700 students enrolled in 2015, Stephens said.

“The largest number of students of any of the ATCs (applied technical colleges) in the state,” Stephens said, “which we’re really proud of.”

The large volume of students has led to overcrowding at the school, which is currently spread across multiple campuses in St. George. The main campus is located on Silicon Way, the Emergency Response Training Center is on Airport Road (also the future location of the upgraded campus), the diesel facility is on Red Rock Road and the Dixie Commons Facility is on Dixie Road. Stephens said:

We are crammed into little tiny spaces that are too small for us. For example, our diesel shop is up in the old industrial park behind Wendy’s off the boulevard. We have two bays, and we need six bays. Diesel techs are in high demand. We have a classroom that will hold 24 students, we have 45 students in the diesel program.

With the crowded conditions, Stephens said the faculty and staff are adept at finding creative ways to make the classes and classrooms function well.

“We change things around; we make this work, and we make that work,” she said. “We’re really good at bootstrapping, but it’s going to be really awesome to have the space, to have really well-designed classrooms and fantastic lab facilities with state of the art equipment. It’s really going to let us take another step forward, a big step forward.”

There was a great deal of excitement about the new facilities, Stephens said.

A groundbreaking Thursday celebrated the construction of a new building that will house all of Dixie Applied Technology College programs under one roof at the Ridge Top Complex, St. George, Utah, Jan. 14, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News
A groundbreaking Thursday celebrated the construction of a new building that will house all of Dixie Applied Technology College programs under one roof at the Ridge Top Complex, St. George, Utah, Jan. 14, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

“When you start and you’re in begged, borrowed and leased space, you pretty much just have to take what you can get — be really grateful for it — and make it work,” Stephens said. “But for the first time in our college’s history, we are able to design space, the right kind of space for the right programs, get the right equipment, so it’s really going to be a game-changer for us as well.”

Currently the school’s four locations total approximately 50,000 square feet. The upgraded campus will have approximately 150,000 square feet of space. The original intent was for the school to have a 177,000 square foot campus, but those plans were curtailed due to budget constraints.

“We cut space out of everywhere we could cut space,” Stephens said. “We had originally planned in some space for growth; we’ve had to cut all that growth space.”

The state has committed to funding $31.9 million, while the Washington County is bonding $8-9 million, leaving $5 million in funds to be raised. So far, private business entities in the St. George area have stepped up, pledging nearly $2 million.

Washington County Commissioner Alan Gardner said that utilizing a bond to help with the expansion made good sense for the county considering the skilled workforce the college had developed over the years.

They’re going to play a big part in our economy. They have for a long time,” Gardner said. “It provides lots of training for a lot of the local workforce. They’re going to have expanded capabilities with more things to offer. I think that’s critical.”

St. George Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Gregg McArthur said DXATC is a “major player” in Southern Utah and that Stephens has done a remarkable job as president of the school. He said:

We have a lot of technological-type jobs here in Southern Utah that require that specific type of training. For example, for the last couple decades, the economic development team here in Southern Utah is bringing in manufacturing and distributing companies. They have a lot of technical jobs that require those types of skills, running large machinery and manufacturing processes and things like that. University degrees are good, but these tech degrees, applied sciences degrees are the ones that are really helping out these industries.

The growth and expansion of DXATC is a very positive thing for Southern Utah, McArthur said. With Washington County growing rapidly and companies looking to base manufacturing, distributing and other technologically-sophisticated jobs in the area, having a workforce that is qualified and well-trained for those careers is enticing to those companies.

“The number one thing employers are looking for when they want to look at this area is — do we have the talent?” McArthur said. “The Applied Technology College will provide those skills and that labor force to help us move in that direction, and that leads to higher paying jobs and even better careers as we move forward.”

Email: dgilman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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