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Bismarck State College launched a capital campaign this year to move its health sciences program onto its main campus. The program is currently housed at a facility in downtown Bismarck.

Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill on Thursday allocating $8.9 million to expand Bismarck State College's health sciences programs.

The college plans to relocate the programs, which are currently housed at the Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health building in downtown Bismarck, to its main campus. Funding for the move was included in a bill to fund various higher education capital projects. 

"We are so grateful to the North Dakota Legislature and Gov. Burgum for their support of our programs and the students who are called to this vital field," BSC president Larry Skogen said in a statement.

Due to the limitations of the current facility and budget constraints, the college has turned away students seeking training in nursing and other health occupations, according to BSC's website.

The lease on the space in downtown Bismarck also is set to expire this summer. The new, existing building on campus, will accommodate more students and have state-of-the-art technology and equipment, according to a news release from BSC.

The building also will include a "virtual hospital," that will allow for collaboration among the health sciences departments and provide additional training opportunities.

The number of jobs in health care is expected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Thanks to this support, we can help fill this demand more quickly now as we expand all our programs," Carla Hixson, BSC dean of current and emerging technologies, said in a statement.

BSC spokeswoman Juanita Lee said the plan is to move equipment from the downtown Bismarck facility to the new building in July and start classes there this fall.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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Education and Health Reporter