Tyler Junior College breaks ground on energy center

Published on Wednesday, 19 February 2014 23:50 - Written by Emily Guevara eguevara@tylerpaper.com

Tyler Junior College broke ground on an energy center that will serve as a training site for those seeking highly skilled jobs.

The 48,000 square foot facility will be three stories tall and will adjoin the existing Skills Training Center on TJC’s West Campus.

The facility, which should open in fall 2015, will house labs for heating, ventilation and air conditioning training, power plant technology and computers, a large assembly room and as many as nine classrooms for alternative energy programs, according to TJC information.

“Long-term, cities that I think are going to grow economically (are) those with high-skilled technical training,” said Tom Mullins, President and CEO of the Tyler Economic Development Council.

Mullins said when the Skills Training Center opened in 2003, it provided a place for training in automotive technology and welding along with space for companies such as Trane and Luminant — a power generation company — to provide training.

Mullins said this expansion accommodates the growth of Luminant Academy and also will provide more space for Trane and for Delek Refining to offer training programs.

“It supports an important segment of (our) regional economy and creates some high-paying jobs,” he said.

TJC President Dr. Mike Metke said the facility will cost more than $8 million to build. Revenue bonds will pay for the construction of this facility up front, but funds received from tax increment financing over 15 years will pay back the debt.

The college will seek partners to cover any remaining expenses, Metke said.

Smith County and TJC are contributing financially through the tax-increment financing. The city of Tyler declined to participate in the TIF but agreed to provide a cash contribution that the Tyler Economic Development Council will match.

Through the energy center, the college will expand its power plant technology program and the Luminant Academy, relocate the heating, air conditioning and refrigeration programs, and expand the high school dual-credit programs with certification components.

College officials also plan to have new power production, energy extraction and process industry programs.

The building will include more than 17,000 square feet of unfinished space on the third floor for future development.