September 11, 2014 —
Two years ago, the scene Tuesday morning at the former M&S building on M-34 on the east side of town would have been unimaginable: a broad variety of local dignitaries, visitors, students and regional media at the grand opening for the Southern Michigan Center for Science and Industry.
The Center, championed by people like Hudson Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Osborne, Bill Rayl of the Jackson Area Manufacturer’s Association, and Hudson City Manager Steve Hartsel, was founded to train both adults and high school students for high-tech manufacturing jobs — jobs that need special training for the area to be competitive in today’s work force. It also provides pre-engineering education and training for people intending to advance their education in those areas.
The Center is funded through a broad variety of sources, including student tuition, donations from industry and others, and various grants. The Hudson Area School system has helped to provide start-up funding and management for the center, which is headed by former manufacturing executive Dan Rogers. Partners in the effort include Alro Steel, Applied Technologies, the City of Hudson, Elwood Staffing, Hudson Area Schools, the Jackson Area Manufacturing Association, Lenawee Now, the Lenawee Economic Development Corporation, Lenawee Development Finance Authority, Master Chemical Corporation, Methods Machine Tools, Inc., Michigan Rebuild and Automation, Seco, Sierra Design, and South Central Michigan Works.
In his opening remarks at the Tuesday morning press conference, Hudson Area Schools superintendent Dr. Michael Osborne said, “The Southern Michigan Center for Science and Industry has been created to be a solution for several problems. It is a solution for high school graduates who are overwhelmed with debts and a job market that rarely meets the promised expectations or needs. It is a solution for industries that are struggling to find qualified candidates for good paying positions and careers. It is a solution for industries that would like to expand or locate in this region and add to our local tax base — but the lack of an adequate work force prevents it.”
Osborne pointed out that like most good things, the Center started with an idea and an opportunity. He credited Rayl and Hudson City Manager Steve Hartsel’s discussions to develop the idea of using the former M&S building for such a training facility. “Their leadership and the leadership of other industrial leaders from this area are really what started the momentum.”
The superintendent also pointed out others that contributed greatly to the development of the center, including:
• Hudson Area School board, for the leadership and openness to new and different ideas that allowed Hudson Area Schools to be a part of the project.
• Gosla from South Central Michigan Works, who provided guidance and data.
• Jim Philp, the Lenawee Intermediate School District superintendent, who assisted in getting the program to qualify for Lenawee County Career and Technical Education funds.
• Elwood Staffing, which leases space in the center and partnering with it to help identify and meet the needs of industry.
• Jim VanDoren and Tim Robinson of Lenawee Now who serve as excellent consultants.
• David Seiler, the original architect of the M&S building, who has helped with building approval.
• The advisory committee, including Mike Jimenaz of Alro Steel, Eric Girdham of Michigan Rebuild and Automation, and Thomas Sour of Methods Machine.
Center Director Dan Rogers commented, “Our vision is to create a facility that will attract industry leaders who desire to develop products and processes that support industry.
Well over a hundred people visited the grand opening on Tuesday morning. After remarks by Dr. Osborne, Rodney Stokes, Special Advisor for City Placemaking to Governor Rick Snyder, and James E. Van Doren, Executive Director of Lenawee Now, a formal ribbon cutting was held. Following the ceremonies, there was an open house featuring exhibits, demonstrations, facility tours, food, fun and entertainment.
The Center first opened for adult students last summer to serve adults and industrial partners in Southern Michigan. The first classes are in CNC Machine operation, using machines donated by Methods Machine Tools Inc. Adult classes in advanced welding and robotics are planned to begin soon, and other classes are contemplated based on the needs identified by industry. Considerable customization of classes is possible, Rogers said.
Classes for high school students started with the beginning of the school year last week. Adult and high school classes and workshops are held in separate parts of the building. Many of the high schools contiguous to the program have expressed interest or have committed to sending students to the program.
For more information on the Southern Michigan Center for Science and Industry, located at 550 E. Main in Hudson, call (517) 448-1413 or check their website at http://smcsi.org.