Two years after starting fundraising, Waukesha County Technical College held a grand opening Monday for its new $4.5 million Integrated Manufacturing Center.
The 24,000-square-foot facility on the college’s Pewaukee campus is the product of donations from a number of individuals and businesses in the county. The WCTC Foundation started its campaign in the spring of 2014, but the donations didn’t pick up until a then-anonymous donor offered a $1 million challenge grant in August. The challenge, which was put forward by the Fotsch Family Foundation, was for the college to raise a $2 million in funds to go with the $1.5 million allowed under state capital spending limits. The goal was eventually reached in December.
Waukesha County Business Alliance president Suzanne Kelley recalled when Tom Fotsch called her and Mary Baer, the Alliance’s then vice president of community engagement, to tell them about the challenge and ask the Alliance to bring the business community on-board.
“I think Mary and I were stunned, elated and petrified by the challenge in front of us,” Kelley told the audience of over 100 business leaders, elected officials and students at Monday’s opening.
Fotsch, the foundation’s president and an executive at EmbedTek in the City of Pewaukee, recalled a family motto his parents passed on to him and his seven siblings.
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” he said. “Our family has clearly benefited from the manufacturing environment in the greater Milwaukee area and we are honored, through our investment in the IMC, to keep manufacturing alive and well for future generations.”
The new facility allows WCTC to double the amount of lab space dedicated to its automation systems technology program. Fotsch noted that it is also designed to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of students and employers.
“The IMC provides an opportunity for hands-on education while at the same time helping address the skills gap in Waukesha County and the region,” he said.
Kelley said that while the new facility is a step forward in addressing workforce issues in the county, there is more for business leaders to do in increasing interest in manufacturing careers and offering internships, apprenticeships and plant tours.
“This is not the end point,” she said.