Plans to bring a Ranken Tech satellite campus to Lincoln County continue as the county works to acquire necessary funds to enter official contracts.
“We’re still working on getting exact financial details, still working on making this project feasible for Ranken to want to do this project with us,” said Julie Roberts, the interim executive director of economic development for Lincoln County. “We’re close to getting that figured out. After that, we will start entering into Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) and finding who’s going to be taking the lead.”
Last year Lincoln County was awarded a $500,000 grant to spend on a “technical training center,” through the efforts of Representative Randy Pietzman. Initially, the grant had a deadline to be used within the 2019 Missouri fiscal year, which ended on June 30. County officials were able to meet with the Governor’s Office staff and were assured the grant had been rolled over into the 2020 Missouri budget, which removed the pressure of a fast approaching deadline from the whole situation.
Ranken Technical College already has satellite campuses in Perryville and Wentzville, and the school has a system to follow on how to expand into Lincoln County. That system includes the county paying for a building and assisting with teacher salaries for three years, while Ranken will cover the rest of the general expenses of running a school.
If after those three years the campus can be seen as a success, then Ranken will either buy or lease the property from the community.
Lincoln County has found a potential site for the campus, but estimates put the cost of building facilities at roughly $4.5 million, and that’s after using the grant money.
However, county officials are continuing to look for other grants and donations to help out with costs. They met with Boonslick Regional last Friday to discuss applying for federal economic development grants and community development block grants.
Despite not having all the financial details figured out, both Ranken and the county are very positive that everything will work out.
“We’re excited. We know that they’re a perfect fit for us up here in Lincoln County and they’re excited to be up here,” says Roberts.
Ranken has already gone ahead with identifying different programs that would work well with Lincoln County, even wanting to move their “Advanced Manufacturing Technician” program that’s currently at Wentzville to Troy if everything turns out. Other programs that have been discussed for a Lincoln County campus include “Construction Trades” and “Agri-Tech,” the later being an area Ranken has never dealt with before.
“Ranken has never done anything in agriculture, so this is a first for them. They’re excited and they think Lincoln County is the perfect place to do that, and we tend to agree with them,” Roberts said. “We are an AG ready county, which means we understand the importance of agriculture. You get north into the county and you realize there’s still a lot of active farming.”
Specifically, Ranken hopes to build an aquaponics lab at a future facility, which is an area that the Silex FFA and Troy STEM programs have been experimenting with lately. School programs such as FFA are actually another reason why Ranken wants to come to Lincoln County. Roberts said Troy has the strongest FFA program in the entire state, which helps prepare teens for excelling in technical fields. She also said Lincoln County has an above the state average number of students who graduate planning on attending a technical or two-year degree school instead of going into a four-year program.
Ranken specializes in providing a very hands-on learning experience for students.
Businesses will hire them for work, which will then be done by teachers and students working together. In general, Lincoln County has many businesses in desperate need of workers with technical degrees and certificates. Bringing a technical school to the community provides countless opportunities for expanding and investing in the local area.
“We’re confident that this is going to happen,” Roberts said. “It’s not that simple, but it’s well worth it. We’ve taken our time to make sure everything we do is right. We want to get this right the first time.”