PHD, Huntington U offer matches for Learning Center project

At the podium, Mr. Leland Boren, president of PHD, Inc., announces a major matching gift for the Huntington County Community Learning Center along with Dr. Sherilyn Emberton (left), president, Huntington University, and Ed Vessels (right), president, HiValu LLC.
Huntington manufacturer PHD Inc. and Huntington University have contributed $50,000 each to the proposed Huntington County Community Learning Center to encourage a one-for-two match to raise an additional $200,000 by Jan. 31, 2015.

Thus far, $822,000 has been raised for the $1.3-million center, which would be in the Huntington County Community Schools Corp.’s vocational center at 2201 N. Jefferson St. The PHD/Huntington University Match Opportunity is part of a “Bringing It Home” campaign to raise the remainder of the project money.

The vocational center, which already provides some programs, would be expanded from 18,000 square feet to 24,000 square feet with the addition of classrooms and space for general office functions, a health care lab, and welding, machining and industrial maintenance programs. WorkOne Northeast and Ivy Tech Community College Northeast would also have offices in the expanded center.

The learning center would provide a variety of college courses and certification-based training for sundry careers, including industrial maintenance, precision machining, welding, certified nursing assistant (CNA), emergency medical technician (EMT), criminal justice and automotive technician. Ivy Tech would provide equipment and the bulk of the instruction. WorkOne, which would lease space in the center, would provide job search assistance, skills assessments, career planning and development workshops, and high school equivalency preparation.

The center would encourage dual-credit opportunities for high school students and enhanced educational opportunities for adults. “This is a collaborative community effort to increase skills for citizens and prepare them for in-demand jobs, serve as a pathway to connect youth and adults to careers with family-sustaining wages, and help establish a culture of life-long learning in the community,” said Ed Vessels, president of HiValu LLC and a member of the development team planning the learning center.

“The learning center will be an integrated career services model for the state of Indiana that supports the increasing emphasis here and statewide on career and technical education, especially in the manufacturing sector,” he said. “In sum, this project is all about collaborating to promote skills, jobs and futures. It will be a one-stop shop for a continuum of education in our area.”

Vessels said the project aligns with Vision 2020’s regional Big Goal initiative, which is striving to ensure that 60 percent of adults in northeast Indiana have high-quality credentials or degrees by 2025. Currently, just 37 percent of adults meet that standard.

Vessels said Huntington University envisions a number of partnership advantages to the center, including dual-credit opportunities and exposure of CNA students to the university’s nursing program. The university is also considering offering adult education classes at the center.

“As the leading provider of post-secondary education and training in Huntington County for over 100 years, Huntington University continues to seek new opportunities to meet the needs of business and the citizens of our community,” said Sherilyn Emberton, president of Huntington University. “Supporting the establishment of the Huntington County Community Learning Center allows us to further our mission by collaborating to provide seamless articulation in K-16 initiatives for all populations of learners.”

Said Leland Boren, president of PHD: "From a community perspective, PHD believes in access for
 all people to skills and education, and it makes perfect sense for us to be an investor to help bring the Huntington County Community Learning Center to fruition. The concept of having a site for hands-on technical training by proven providers like Huntington County schools and Ivy Tech with access to career planning via WorkOne just makes sense for potential employees and businesses like ours."

Besides Vessels, other members of the learning center development team include representatives of Huntington University; Northeast Indiana Works, which oversees the region’s WorkOne Northeast career centers; Huntington County Chamber of Commerce; Pathfinder Services Inc.; Bippus State Bank; Huntington County Community Schools Corp.; United Way of Huntington County; and Ivy Tech Corporate College.