Last edited 9:46 a.m., June 24, 2022
Robert Randolph, executive director of Ozarks Technical Community College's Robert W. Plaster Center for Advanced Manufacturing, is leading the project to completion this summer.
Aug. 15 is the scheduled grand opening for the manufacturing center known as the PMC, a $40 million, 120,000-square-foot project at OTC's Springfield campus.
"We are on schedule," Randolph said in a June 21 interview with Springfield Business Journal Editorial Vice President Eric Olson for the 12 People You Need to Know series.
Columbus, Kansas-based Crossland Construction Co. Inc. is general contractor for the Chestnut Expressway and National Avenue project designed by Dake Wells Architecture Inc. and its national partner, Minneapolis-based Perkins & Will Inc., according to past reporting.
Randolph, who was hired by OTC before construction of the PMC began, on Tuesday spoke about the journey leading up to the opening in the 12 People interview at The Backlot, Alamo Drafthouse Springfield's restaurant and bar. Randolph and other OTC officials collected best practices from similar centers in the country, though he says a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing space at the PMC sets it apart.
"This is really a showcase facility," he said, noting OTC is billing it as a catalyst for a new era of manufacturing in the region.
The PMC is built with business interaction in mind, from asking manufacturing leaders what their workforce needs are to leasing space so companies can be alongside students. He called it a "win-win for the business that operates in that space."
The facility intentionally lends itself well to tours, and Randolph has become well versed in that aspect. On Tuesday, he said he had given 157 tours to date.
"We've got this really interactive experience," he said, noting field trips with young people are helping to fill the pipeline for the future of the manufacturing workforce. "It's really a great opportunity to show them that some of this stuff is really fun."
Olson noted to the 12 People audience some of his observations on a recent tour with Randolph: a 5-ton crane system for students to learn on, eight classrooms and over a dozen labs for drafting, computer networking and other programs, and two student lounges connected by a catwalk overlooking the simulation factory floor.
Randolph said project funding is almost completed, with $8 million in private donations raised toward a $10 million goal.
As the PMC reaches completion, Randolph said his role will include working to increase its presence in the business community, developing new training programs and, of course, giving tours.
"We're doing everything we can to increase awareness," he said.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May the all-items inflation index surged 8.6% over the past year, the highest increase since 1981.