By William Griscom

In a world where we constantly hear of political polarization, partisanship, and ideological silos, the new Greiner Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Thaddeus Stevens College project stands in stark contrast. It represents a positive example of a multi-level, bipartisan, public-private partnership that required leadership, creativity, cooperation, and compromise, in order to become a reality.

It was in that spirit that we celebrated breaking ground on the center Oct. 2. We believe this facility, with its advanced technology and highly skilled faculty, will create a human capital magnet with the potential to transform this part of the City.

When the city reacquired the property from the Army National Guard, it would have provided the perfect location for Mayor Gray to consolidate a number of his operations, something he had been attempting to do for some time. However, he believed that creating a high-skill education facility in the space represented a higher purpose, and he worked with the College and the Commonwealth to make this happen, with the support of City Council.

A major hurdle in the acquisition of the site was the funding required, which had to come from a number of sources. At this point Frank and Sharron Greiner stepped forward and provided a $1 million matching gift, which led to other gifts including significant contributions from the Steinman Foundation, the High Foundation, Bob Redcay, Ann Barshinger and American Boiler, who has donated all of the boilers for the buildings plus a significant gift of boilers for instruction.

Former Governor Corbett and his Secretary of General Services, Sheri Phillips, and then subsequently Governor Wolf and current DGS Secretary Curtis Topper all went to extraordinary lengths to cut through the red tape and bureaucracy, and creatively find ways to move this project from a vision to the construction now beginning. We received additional support from then-state senator Lloyd Smucker, now in Congress, his successor Sen. Scott Martin and state Rep. Michael Sturla. The College also received strong support from our County Commissioners, who donated the property behind the site, known as Hands Woods.

This past year, the College had 1,331 employers seeking our graduates for over 3,000 jobs. These are great jobs with many starting salaries of $50-$60,000.

Of the three programs relocating to the Greiner Center,

  • Machine Tool and Computer-Aided Manufacturing had 177 employers with 334 jobs for 18 graduates;
  • Metal Fabrication and Welding had 178 employers with 314 jobs for 25 graduates; and
  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration had 177 employers with 287 jobs for 38 graduates.

When we open the new facility in the fall, we will be able to significantly increase the number of graduates in these programs.

In addition, when we gain occupancy of the adjacent Parks & Recreation building, we will convert it into the Steinman Community Learning Center, with after-school programs operated by Advantage Lancaster, and also offer short term training programs for adults.

On behalf of the College’s Board of Trustees and the entire Thaddeus Stevens Community, I thank everyone who assisted with this important endeavor.

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