ST. CLOUD – St. Cloud Technical & Community College has been awarded over $2.5 million in federal funds to enhance its manufacturing programs.

The investment, made by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, will fund an Advanced Manufacturing Training Lab, located at SCTCC’s campus on Northway Drive in St. Cloud.

The grant, to be matched with more than $2 million in local funds, is expected to create or retain 1,290 jobs and generate nearly $38 million in private investment, according to the EDA.

The project will allow the college to train workers for high-paying manufacturing jobs in high demand throughout central Minnesota, said Jennifer Erickson, Director of Customized Training.

“The lab will offer state-of-the-art equipment for training and flexible space to expand capacity in the College’s Manufacturing Technology programs,” Erickson said. “The new lab will serve more students, offer new skills training for students and incumbent workers, and support cross-training between the different Manufacturing Technology programs.”

The new lab will allow SCTCC’s Energy & Electronics program to double from 24 to 48 students. It will also include more advanced teaching spaces for the college’s CNC, Machining and Robotics and Automation programs.

“In addition to current demand, the Advanced Manufacturing Training Lab will support the jobs of the future,” said Erickson. “About 70% of manufacturers say the biggest impacts of robotics on the workforce in the next five years will be an increased need for talent to manage in a more automated, flexible production environment and the opening of new jobs to engineer robotics and their operating systems.”

SCTCC will also add about $2.5 million in new equipment, including new robots with vision, a water jet cutter and a metal 3D printer.

The total project cost is estimated at $4.6 million. SCTCC aims to complete construction by late 2022 or early 2023.