With Erie Community College officials and elected leaders watching, construction workers placed the final beam atop the college's future STEM education building on the North Campus.
The 57,000 square foot facility, located on the Youngs Road side of the campus, will soon be home to classes and training in science, technology, engineering and math skills. The building is scheduled for completion by the end of this year.
New York State is providing half of the $30 million project cost. Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul appeared at Monday's "topping off" ceremony to speak about the training that will soon be available, and the jobs that local young people will be able to gain as the result of that training.
"Standing behind me is going to be an incredible opportunity," she said. "When this building is completed, for every young person who wants to take part in the innovation economy, you'll walk through those doors, you can get a degree and I guarantee you'll get a job."
Not just any jobs but good-paying employment, said other guests including Erie County Legislator Edward Rath III. The county and ECC are evenly dividing the remaining $15 million cost for construction of the new STEM building. Rath stated that among the world's 34th most industrious nations, the United States is 27th in math and 20th in science. He considers the county's commitment to the new STEM building a wise investment.
"When we're investing in the STEM building, we're actually investing in the future of our country and the future of our community," he said. "The wage rate is 37 dollars an hour, versus 18 dollars an hour in other similar jobs that are coming out of college. We're educating our kids in the right way, we're educating our kids for the future of our community and we're actually putting the dollars into the areas where our money needs to be spent."
It's the second time within a month that guests celebrated a high-tech center on ECC's North Campus. Earlier in February, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held inside the new Nanotechnology Center, located just a short walk from the future STEM building.