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MCC-Blue River groundbreaking Dec. 2 to mark imminent arrival of CDL, utility lineman, warehousing and OSHA programs in Eastern Jackson County

November 23, 2020
By Mary Beth Hope

MCC-Blue River East Building Ground Breaking

Metropolitan Community College will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 2, for its new MCC-Blue River East building, just east of the main Blue River campus on 78 Highway in Independence.

The 12:30 p.m. ceremony will be held in person for a limited number of attendees and streamed live as well.

The $10.2 million facility, expected to be completed in fall 2021, will house MCC’s commercial driver’s license (CDL), utility lineman and forklift/warehousing programs. The 25,500-square-foot building will also be home to the Great Plains OSHA Education Center.

"MCC is committed to being the first and last stop for students who want to learn a skill or trade," says MCC Chancellor Kimberly Beatty. "With facilities like the new Blue River East building, we are creating the best possible opportunities for our students to learn, but we are also serving the community, building Kansas City’s workforce and making a positive impact on the local economy."

The indoor utility-pole field, state-of-the art OSHA training lab, and cargo bay for operation of forklifts or other large vehicles set the facility apart from training environments typically found at other educational institutions, MCC-Blue River President Thomas Meyer says. The building will also house several modern classroom spaces as well as storage for vehicles used in Blue River’s police and fire academies.

Meyer explains that the available land and workforce needs within the community made the location ideal for these programs.

"Students will benefit from seeing all of these programs and how they interconnect," Meyer says. "Ensuring a steady and continued pipeline of trained workers in the region and creating opportunities for current workers to upskill are priorities for MCC."

Susan Blaser, program coordinator and instructor for MCC’s utility lineman program, says she is most excited about the 56 acres of grass surrounding the new building — the current training yard (at MCC-Business & Technology near I-435 and Front Street) is situated on asphalt. Being able to train in the grass will provide much more of a real-life experience for students, and the shade will make summer training more bearable.

Also, a much larger indoor lab space that can be sectioned off into stations will allow for instruction to take place in groups of three or four students, another major improvement over the current learning space.

Blaser says her goal is to work toward providing a training environment that simulates exactly what lineworkers encounter when working in neighborhoods.

Another advantage of the new location? The MCC-Blue River East building is just a stone’s throw from Independence Power & Light, which Blaser says already provides a great deal of support and materials to the lineman program.

MCC offers a variety of options for certificates or associate degrees in each of the programs coming to the MCC-Blue River East facility.

BNIM designed the Blue River East project for Metropolitan Community College. The general contractor is McCownGordon Construction.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers of the 12:30 p.m. Dec. 2 groundbreaking are encouraging community members to attend remotely. RSVP by emailing rebecca.cook@mcckc.edu (indicate in-person or virtual). A Zoom link will be sent to individuals who indicate they will attend virtually. Face coverings and social distancing are required for everyone on the MCC campuses. Most classes this semester are being taught remotely.

Construction began in October on a new Engineering Technology addition at MCC-Penn Valley in midtown Kansas City that is also expected to open in fall 2021. More construction projects are on the horizon as workforce programs at MCC-Business & Technology move to locations accessible to more students, including a building at 2944 Troost Ave. that is being transformed into MCC’s state-of-the-art manufacturing training center.