Dodge City Community College plans to build an agriculture learning center in order to offer additional education programs.
The designs for the learning center have been completed. Currently, the community college and its foundation are in the process of working with local government entities and private donors to raise funds for the project, according to Roger Proffitt, director of the Dodge City Community College Foundation.
The plan to build the Dodge City Community College Agriculture Learning Center is a result of feedback received from members of the agricultural community in southwest Kansas, Proffitt said.
The learning center would give the community college a means by which to provide for the needs of its partners which include the residents of Ford County, the Ford County Commission, the Kansas State University Cooperative Extension, the City of Dodge City, and Unified School District 443, according to the 2013 President’s Report, authored by Dr. Don A. Woodburn.
The learning center would be able to host 4-H, Future Farmers of America, and college judging camps and contests. The facilities would also be ideal for rodeo and roping events, and equestrian shows and events, according to a promotional brochure for the center, the president’s report states.
Dr. Woodburn believes the best location for the center is at the Western State Bank Expo Center.
The first phase of the project will include a classroom and office building, a student equestrian stable facility, at the Western State Bank Expo Indoor Arena, the report says. Additionally, a breeding stable, a judging pavilion, an outdoor arena, a building for the KSU Farm Management Association, an AI building, a concession and ticket building, a hay barn, an equipment barn, and greenhouses would be built.
The first phase of the project is expected to cost $4.5 million. Before construction can begin, the Ford County Public Building Commission must give its approval. In the meantime, DC3's Board of Trustees is exploring a number of options for funding the center, including industrial revenue bonds, said Dave Wetmore, director of marketing and human resources.
After the construction project is complete, the community college would lease-to-own the facility for 20 years or until the bonds have been repaid, according to Dr. Woodburn’s report.
It is not clear when construction would begin or when the project will be completed.
According to Proffitt and the community college’s 2013 President’s Report, the learning center will attract about 200 additional students to the college. The tuition and fees the students pay are expected to add $5,000 per student to DC3's coffers or about $1 million in total.
“It is going to increase the student population. Those are our customers. We will have to hire more faculty and staff, which will bring more money to town,” Proffitt said, in regards to the center and other projects that are planned for the community college.
Page 2 of 2 - High school students who are deciding where to attend college would be more likely to come to Dodge City if the community college has attractive facilities and educational options that meet the needs of the students. “It’s a no-brainer,” he said.
The tuition and fees that the students will pay are expected to greatly exceed the amount of money that will be needed to repay the bond and add additional faculty and staff, according to the president’s report.
In addition, each of the students that enroll in the college due to the new learning options will add approximately $10,000 to the local economy. The local economy will see a $2 million annual economic benefit with the arrival of the new students, according to Proffitt and a Kansas Association of Community College Trustees study that is cited in the president’s report.