Recently I had the pleasure to speak as a panelist at Leadership Oshkosh, a wonderful program through the Chamber of Commerce that exposes emerging leaders to the vast resources within the community. The program prepares people for leadership roles in their business and in the community. As I looked at these energized and future-focused leaders, I realized these were the best and brightest who are willing to make an investment in the future of Oshkosh. They were clearly interested in helping to create a vibrant, healthy future for the city they call home. It struck me that we share the same goal.
We opened our Riverside Campus in Oshkosh in the early ‘80s and completely remodeled that facility in the late ‘90s as a result of our last capital referendum in 1998. Since 2007, the number of students taking classes at our Oshkosh facilities has grown by 25%. Based on their needs and the needs of Oshkosh area employers, we expanded in programming and technology by opening a new Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center in January of 2011. There, we are able to train both students and working professionals on a wide range of welding applications with state-of-the-art technology thanks to the incredible support and partnership with Miller Electric Mfg. Co. Our third site in Oshkosh is located on Oregon Street and includes the S.J. Spanbauer Center which offers several aviation, construction, and wood manufacturing programs, as well as the FabTECH Education Center that was built in partnership with Fabco and Caterpillar, designed to prepare service technicians for the heavy equipment rental industry all across Wisconsin and Michigan’s UP.
Next month we will begin a planned 8,000 sq. ft. expansion to the S.J. Spanbauer Center in Oshkosh to properly support the growing programs at that location. With that project underway, Fox Valley Technical College will have invested $6.5 million dollars in facilities in the Oshkosh community within the last 5-6 years. None of these investments were “build it, and they will come” propositions. Rather, these facilities were needed to serve the employers and residents of the Oshkosh region. The significant needs and opportunities to serve were very clear and pressing—they could not be ignored or put off to a future date.
Just as tomorrow’s leaders in Oshkosh were grappling with the challenges and opportunities for the community and how they were going to contribute to those future efforts, we want to do our part to create a healthy, vibrant economy for Oshkosh and the dozens of other communities that make up the Fox Valley Tech District. We continue to evolve and grow with the ever-changing needs of the communities we are privileged to serve.