College of Lake County plans to borrow $50 million for tech center, athletic complex
The College of Lake County is planning a $50 million bond issue to fund projects that include converting the former Lowe's store in Gurnee into an advanced technology center and building an outdoor sports complex.
Proceeds from the bond issue, which is a form of borrowing, wouldn't be in hand until late this year. But the sale by the Grayslake-based community college would be a milestone for two major initiatives.
The proposal includes $20 million for the tech center; $10 million for an outdoor sports complex; and $9.3 million for deferred maintenance at its three campuses. It allow would the college to reimburse itself up to $10 million for spending in advance of the bond sale.
College officials in September approved a resolution to buy the shuttered Lowe's home improvement store situated on 14 acres at 7735 Grand Ave. In December, CLC officials announced the intent to create a center to teach skills to strengthen Lake County's manufacturing workforce.
CLC President Lori Suddick said growth opportunities are being limited because manufacturers can't find skilled workers.
"They only see that as continuing," she said before the board vote. "So, it's imperative we get that (advanced technology center) in place, and that's included in this bond."
The 142,000-square-foot center will allow CLC to expand manufacturing-focused programs. Welding, fabrication and industrial maintenance will be first. Computer numerical control, robotics and other programs are planned for future phases.
According to the college, one in seven jobs in Lake County is in the manufacturing sector, but the number could be higher if workforce development kept pace with demand. The intent of the tech center is to close that gap. Construction is expected to begin next week and be complete by summer 2022.
"The ATC is a huge investment which comes at a critical time." said Kevin Considine, president and CEO of Lake County Partners, the county's development arm.
Local manufacturing growth has been strong, and there is increasing awareness of the value of careers in fields like automation and robotics, he added.
An outdoor sports complex is the second-largest project on the list.
"This college has not invested in its athletics facilities for a very long time," Suddick said.
"Getting defunct athletic facilities into shape that our athletes can actually play in non-flooded fields is an important aspect of that work."
The complex would include baseball and softball fields and tennis courts on the north side of the Grayslake campus along Washington Street. Design work has not started.
More than $6.7 million of the bond funding would be used for deferred maintenance at the Grayslake campus and $2.6 million targeted for CLC's Waukegan and Vernon Hills campuses.
A public hearing on the bond issue is scheduled for Sept. 28. The board will consider a resolution to issue the bonds on Nov. 16.