Illinois Governor Pat Quinn visited Southeastern Illinois College Friday to announce a $1.46 million 5,000 square-foot addition to the Carmi-White County Vocational Building.
The addition will be adjacent to the current David L. Stanley Center, according to a release from the governor’s office. It will house instructional areas and labs in welding and other vocational programs. The project involves a 25 percent match of $465,000. The state's portion comes from Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program.
Land for the project was donated by the City of Carmi in 1997 to be the future site of a vocational addition.
Quinn stressed the need for strong education in the region from kindergarten on up. Not only does student achievement mean future business achievement, but school districts themselves are important to the region’s economy.
“We’ve got to make sure we have excellent elementary, secondary and high schools across Illinois. I understood how important it was to wear purple here today in honor of the Bulldogs in Harrisburg High School,” Quinn said.
But the focus Friday was colleges, community colleges in particular of which there are four in southernmost Illinois.
“It’s important community college be here in every part of Illinois, every county of Illinois to make sure education resources are available to all,” Quinn said.
Earlier in the day Quinn had been to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale where a new transportation and automotive center has been built.
“It’s so important that we keep building, keep growing, keep investing and keep educating and that’s what really the world is all about,” Quinn said.
Quinn noted he views Illinois as a community.
“It’s important to understand we are a community, not a crowd where everybody runs in separate directions,” he said.
Quinn said the sense of community in Southern Illinois was evident following the Feb. 29, 2012, tornado.
“It was so impressive to see how the family of Southern Illinois came together to help people,” Quinn said.
“It is quite inspiring to see when neighbors help neighbors.”
“We want to thank you Gov. Quinn for your investment in this community, in this community college,” State Rep. Brandon Phelps, former SIC student, said.
He feels as a representative of the four community colleges and part of SIU it was important for him to become a part of congress’ higher education committee.
Phelps noted all four southernmost Illinois community college districts as well as a portion of SIU-C’s district are within the 118th Congressional District he represents.
“As you all know these are huge economic engines for our community,” Phelps said.
SIC President Dr. Jonah Rice noted in a prepared statement the college is “elated” for the governor’s announcement for the project 20 years in the making.
“Southeastern Illinois College is elated by the news from Governor Quinn about funding this long-planned vocational expansion at out White County extension center,” Rice said, in the prepared release.
“This project was planned nearly 20 years ago by the college, the SIC Foundation and state officials. The Governor’s news today will fulfill that plan and bring valuable training opportunities for students through added career and technical education. Without this funding, the project could not happen.”
SIC has about 5,000 full- or part-time students through the year and nearly 300 employees.