A Thursday groundbreaking ceremony for a $40 million academic building on the campus of Ozarks Technical Community College was punctuated by the announcement of a naming-level investment from the Robert W. Plaster Foundation.
School officials did not disclose the size of the donation for the Robert W. Plaster Center for Advanced Manufacturing. The building is named in honor of Plaster, a southwest Missouri businessman and philanthropist, who died in 2008.
“Dad would be very pleased to help with this exciting project, which will give many more students the opportunity to improve their lives through education and free enterprise,” said Dolly Plaster Clement, Plaster’s daughter and executive director of the Robert W. Plaster Foundation, in a news release.
The new 120,000-square-foot center, aka CAM, is not the first connection for the Plaster family and OTC. The college’s Table Rock campus, which opened in 2013, also received a significant gift from the Plaster family and features the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center, according to the release.
The CAM is designed to provide educational and training opportunities in automation, fabrication, robotics, mechatronics, and drafting and design. School officials say it will be the hub for many of OTC’s technical programs, including manufacturing technology, precision machining and computer networking.
Voters approved a property tax increase in April 2018 for 5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to help pay for the center. OTC officials said prior to the vote that the CAM would be built if the tax issue passed, according to the release.
“Promises made are promises kept,” OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon said in the release. “We are grateful to the people of southwest Missouri who voted to make this facility possible. Not only will it help the workers and businesses who currently call the Ozarks home, but we also hope it will attract new, high-tech industry to the region.”
Additionally, the state has contributed nearly $5 million to the project through a MoExcels Workforce Initiative grant, school officials said.
Gov. Mike Parson was among several state officials in attendance at the Nov. 12 ceremony.
“We need to make sure the next generation of workers has the opportunity to live the American Dream, and that can happen through institutions like OTC and projects like the CAM,” Parson said in the release.
Columbus, Kansas-based Crossland Construction Co. Inc. is the project’s general contractor, while Dake Wells Architecture Inc. and its national partner, Minneapolis-based Perkins & Will Inc., serve as architects. The CAM is expected to be complete by fall 2022, according to school officials.
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