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Bismarck State College announces polytechnic expansion; $38 million facility planned

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BSC Doug Jensen

Bismarck State College President Doug Jensen announces a new building to expand the college's polytechnic mission.

Bismarck State College will build a facility funded by COVID-19 aid dollars to continue its polytechnic mission, which focuses on workforce development.

BSC officials announced the expansion Wednesday in front of an audience that included Bismarck-area business leaders, legislators and the governor.

The $38 million polytechnic facility will be funded with federal coronavirus relief money that was allocated by the Legislature during its mid-November special session. About $3 million will be set aside for things such as curriculum and faculty, and the remaining funds will be used for the building, college spokeswoman Juanita Lee said.

BSC President Doug Jensen said that the state's commitment to the institution's polytechnic mission is an "investment to the economic growth of our communities, our state and our region."

"BSC is now in the position to build a talent pipeline that will impact the economy for years to come," he said.

The college shifted to a polytechnic institute in 2018, which means it has "hands-on, applied learning to develop workforce-ready knowledge." The effort is supported by the private sector, according to the college.

The facility will feature space for students to collaborate with people from different industries, as well as nontraditional learning spaces.

Speakers at the event emphasized the need for workforce development throughout the state and said BSC's polytechnic mission is key to keeping up with North Dakota's growth.

Gov. Doug Burgum said there are at least 18,000 job openings in the state, and Bismarck-Mandan Chamber EDC President Brian Ritter said there are more than 3,300 openings in the Bismarck area, up from 2,600 at the same time last year.

"This community is growing. This community is not going to stop growing," he said. "But we are growing in ways we have not done in the past, which means we can't train the workforce in the same way."

Jensen said the college hopes to break ground on the building in early 2022 and have it open in the fall of 2024. The college is determining construction and architectural partners for the project as well as the location.

Reach Sam Nelson at 701-250-8264 or sam.nelson@bismarcktribune.com.

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