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Gateway explains expansion package



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March 19, 2013 | 04:53 PM
New programs, newly remodeled areas to train students, newly qualified workers and new opportunities to gain the skills for family-supporting jobs.

Those are some of the Walworth County components of Gateway's expansion proposal, to be decided by voters April 2.

The overall package represents a vision by us to continue to meet the needs of our students, communities and area employers in the three counties we serve of Walworth, Racine and Kenosha.

The proposal outlines a framework for us to provide the latest training facilities for students, which give them the greatest chance of entering the workforce — and help our area manufacturers to remain competitive through trained workers. It also calls for money-saving measures by replacing outdated heating and cooling units and better meeting the needs of students through remodeled student services areas.

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Much of the Walworth County portion is being proposed in response to feedback we've received from business and students on how Gateway should expand its services on the Elkhorn campus. Through business summits, community listening sessions and student surveys, we've heard you, loud and clear - and we are positioned to meet your expectations.

We've begun to meet those expectations, but this proposal will speed up that process and allow us to bring our facilities and programs up-to-date even quicker. Walworth County manufacturers say they are seeking even more workers in the manufacturing areas of welding, computer numeric control, and automated manufacturing, or robotic — and the proposal calls for the expansion of lab areas at the Elkhorn campus in these key areas. The proposal calls for some firsts for Gateway, to be offered initially only at the Elkhorn Campus. It provides for Gateway's first Veterinarian Technician program and Food Quality Lab Technician program. Our region has one of the top concentrations of food workers in the entire country.

There are skilled jobs available in the vast and diverse food processing industry, but no local career programs to train those employees. Elkhorn's new lab would address that need, preparing students for jobs in food manufacturing, processing, and packaging.In addition, the proposal brings Gateway's cosmetology and culinary arts programs to Elkhorn. These programs, added to the existing hotel/hospitality program, creates a more complete package of tourism career training.

Employers are asking for new skills and students are eager to train in their home community. Expanding the cosmetology and culinary arts programs to the Elkhorn Campus would mean more complete tourism-related career training right here in Walworth County.

The referendum proposal also is a comprehensive approach to strengthen protective services training with a new Public Safety Training Center that includes an indoor shooting range and emergency vehicle driving range. The location of the center has yet to be decided, but will be centrally located within the district and would serve all three counties with increased comprehensive training for police, fire and EMT professionals.

Investments like this are not taken for granted. Your support for Gateway in the past is appreciate and valued. Your investment in Gateway will change the future for your neighbors and friends for generations.

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