KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Right off of I-94 and Sprinkle Road will be another hub of activity to add to the Wings Event Center and nearby industrial parks. But this one will centralize the career and talent program for the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA).

“It became pretty clear that while CTE in our county was working, it wasn’t working for everybody,” Eric Stewart, assistant superintendent of career and talent development, said. “It was offered in a decentralized model, meaning there were different programs at different schools throughout the county.”

Soon, that model will no longer be the case.

On Friday, the dirt was turned for KRESA’s future Career Connect Campus, a 160,000-square-foot career and technical education center. The funding chiefly came from Kalamazoo County voters passing the CTE millage in 2019 and an anonymous $100 million donation last year.

“This will take it to the next level. I really think with the addition of this — what we’re really framing is — a world-class career center, we can put our name on the map as probably being one of the best career centers in the country,” Stewart said.

The center will feature 25 classrooms, a construction trades area and an AutoTech lab with 20 auto bays and hoists.

“We have programs for electrical, HVAC, nursing, vet sciences, great greenhouses… everything you could hope would all be within this space,” Stewart added.

He explained that the architects and engineers designed the center to also be sustainable and flexible for whichever industry comes next.

“We want to make sure the way we’re training young people is relevant to the employers that we hope to hire them when they leave school,” Stewart said. “Career and technical education’s all about making students more competitive right when they exit their 12th grade year.”

Construction is scheduled to be finished by fall 2024.