The College of Southern Idaho received a $4.4 million federal grant Wednesday to help bring a nearly $7 million technology center to Twin Falls.
The Applied Technology and Innovation Center will provide a consolidated home for CSI’s renewable energy programs. Currently, courses for the college’s environmental technology and wind energy programs are housed across on- and off-campus facilities.
The 29,600-square-foot, energy efficient center will provide training to students in a wide array of renewable energy generation techniques and green construction. CSI officials also plan to include a wing for the college’s auto-body program. CSI President Jerry Beck said he anticipates the building will be located on the south side of North College Road, near the Health Sciences and Human Services Building.
Wednesday’s grant came from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
Twin Falls Mayor Don Hall, who also serves as the college’s law-enforcement instructor, said the project will help the Magic Valley reach the forefront of technology — adding it will assist in meeting demand for trained professionals in sustainable, green jobs.
“The College of Southern Idaho’s Innovation Center project is another great example of partnering to create economic opportunities for our community,” he said.
Beck said the college will fund its nearly $2.5 million portion of the facility out of its plant facilities fund. He added that CSI will likely have to re-open the bidding process to choose a contractor for the project. CSI requested and received contractor bids for the facility in 2008, though the project stalled during a federal review triggered by questions about the college’s bid process.
Beck said he wished the grant had been awarded sooner, but added there is no better time than now to create new jobs and show teaching innovation. He expects construction to take 18 months.
The college’s 2-year-old renewable-energy programs have capacity for 70 students and Instructional Dean Todd Schwarz said there’s a current waiting list of 150 students. While the new center won’t increase enrollment capacity, Schwarz said having a centralized home will be beneficial.
“The primary advantage is consolidation of space designed specifically for the programs involved,” Schwarz said.
The new facility may also help the college add short-term programs and community education courses on wind energy, Schwarz added.
Joe Herring, president of the private, nonprofit economic development consultant Region IV Development, said the $4.4 million represents the largest grant EDA has awarded west of the Mississippi River.
Amy Huddleston may be reached at email@example.com or 735-3204.