Heartland Community College to sue $ 23 million farm building
Heartland Community College is moving forward with a proposal for a $ 23.4 million farm building – the first major component of the college’s new strategic plan. Trustees approved a request for state money to pay for the nearly 30,000 square foot structure, as well as the greenhouse and hoop house.
Heartland President Keith Cornille said the college may choose other funding options, including a public-private partnership, fundraising or bond if state capital does not materialize. Cornille hopes funding options will be explored in late fall or early winter, which will allow administrators to decide how to proceed, adding that Heartland is considering a two-year build process.
Current enrollment in Heartland ag programs is low, around 40 students. But Cornille said agriculture-related jobs were one of the top three areas of workforce development for the region, according to an HCC study.
âAgriculture is a big part of who we are. All the metrics have shown it. There is a big need here in the Midwest, especially in precision farming, agribusiness. , general agronomy and regenerative agriculture as well, âsaid Cornille. .
He said Heartland was very careful to avoid duplicating the agriculture programs at the University of Illinois and Illinois State Universities and to expand areas that can fuel Heartland students in these. programs.
Heartland is already planning to launch certificate programs during the fall semester in the various areas mentioned by Cornille. He said these would increase agriculture-related enrollment to around 200 students, and potentially many more depending on manpower needs. Other existing certificate programs could be converted to associate degree programs, including agricultural mechanics, animal science, food science and horticulture, to further stimulate enrollment.
“In 2019, Illinois had the most agriculture-related job vacancies, totaling over 4,000, compared to the rest of the United States,” according to the directors’ filing which also cited a McLean report. County Economic Development Council, rating four of the top employers. in McLean County have links to agriculture: one in manufacturing, one in chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers, the latter two in input retail, co-ops and related services.
Cornille also noted that there are still plenty of high school feeding programs in the area. Twelve of the district’s fifteen public high schools have active agriculture programs and are actively involved in the FFA National Organization, according to briefing materials for administrators.