ANDERSON – With Red Gold pledging up to $500,000 for a new building to house the Hinds Career Center in Elwood, the Madison County commissioners approved $1 million toward the project.
The commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to provide $1 million in wind farm economic development funds to go toward a new building or to start a robotics training program.
Commissioner John Richwine said some of the funds could be used to start the robotics program but the hope is the $1 million will be used as matching funds to obtain grants for the new skills trade training facility.
Hinds Career Center, which opened in 1968 at 1105 N. 19th St. in Elwood, was Indiana's first career center, according to its website. It serves seven school districts in Madison, Hamilton, Tipton and Grant counties.
Earlier this year, school officials wanted to start a robotics training program in the former Huntington Bank building in downtown Elwood.
When that option was no longer available, local school, business and government leaders began work on two separate projects. One was to start the robotics program and the second to construct a new facility.
Tim Ingle, vice president with Red Gold, said the company wants to provide a legacy opportunity for northern Madison County.
Red Gold has agreed to donate property at the intersection of state roads 28 and 37 for the construction of an 80,000-square-foot building at an estimated cost of $8 million.
Ingle said the company is donating $100,000 and will match dollar for dollar another $200,000 toward construction of the new facility.
“We’re excited to give youth career opportunities,” he said. “We want to provide the catalyst that can put all of Madison County on the map.”
Ingle said the enhanced career center will be the pipeline for the talent so desperately needed to fill jobs available in advanced manufacturing in Madison County.
“We’re laying the groundwork for future generations,” Elwood Mayor Todd Jones said. “This is an opportunity for more programs at the Hinds Career Center.”
Ingle said it’s vital to have business partners in the project and that it could involve schools in Madison, Tipton, Grant and Hamilton counties.
“We realize we’re a region and we hope companies will take ownership in the project,” he said.
Jim Pearson, director of the Hinds Career Center, said there is a short-term goal for opening the robotic training center and a long-term goal of a new facility.
Pearson said the robotics program will start in the existing facility. It will require reconfiguration of classroom space and it is hoped that companies will donate the equipment.
“We want to reserve the $1 million for the new building,” he said.
Commissioner Mike Phipps said both projects have value and urged the $1 million go toward a new facility.
Jones said a not-for-profit organization will receive the $1 million and decide on the best use of the funds.
“This is bigger than Madison County,” Ingle said. “It will teach skilled trades that will touch across a variety of fields.”