FARGO — Officials from more than a dozen local organizations and government entities took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning, July 7, in what is now a cornfield in south Fargo.

By the fall of 2022, however, a new workforce academy is expected to open on the same spot, which will have an address of 4230 64th Ave. S.

The North Dakota State College of Science Alumni Foundation has been instrumental in the development of the career center and NDSCS President John Richman essentially served as emcee of Wednesday's groundbreaking, which doubled as a naming ceremony for the $30 million academy that will be known as the NDSCS Career Innovation Center.

North Dakota State College of Science President John Richman speaks at the groundbreaking for the NDSCS Career Innovation Center in Fargo. Chris Flynn / The Forum
North Dakota State College of Science President John Richman speaks at the groundbreaking for the NDSCS Career Innovation Center in Fargo. Chris Flynn / The Forum

Stating that the project was still in fundraising mode, Richman thanked donors and contributors who have pledged dollars as well as in-kind services to help make the academy happen, adding that once it is built the center will serve thousands of people for generations.

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Organizers are hoping to raise about $15 million from public funding and about $15 million in private donations.

So far, about $20 million has been raised, according to organizers, who said about $11 million has been raised from private sources, including businesses and individuals, while about $9 million has been raised from public entities through federal grants and local government pledges.

When completed, the academy is expected to create more than 100 jobs and help provide area employers with needed workers.

It will also serve area schools with educational training.

At this point, the academy's main collaborative partners, who will fund the center's ongoing operation costs, include: NDSCS; Fargo Public Schools; West Fargo Public Schools; the Central Cass School District; and the Northern Cass School District.

When completed, the academy will offer educational opportunities to students from kindergarten to an associate degree.

The training center will provide career awareness events for elementary students, career identification and preparation activities — including early-entry college classes — for middle and high school students and training/learning spaces for NDSCS students and trainees.

Officials said Wednesday students who attend the academy could be ready to enter the workforce directly from high school if they choose and those who also want to pursue further education may still do so, possibly with assistance from their employer.

Officials also stressed that the career center will help students decide not only what they might want to do after graduation, but also what they don't want to do.

Rendering shows what the NDSCS Career Innovation Center will look like. Image courtesy NDSCS.
Rendering shows what the NDSCS Career Innovation Center will look like. Image courtesy NDSCS.

The career center's design will include wings, which officials said will make future expansion easier and allow for attractive features such as outdoor courts.

This rendering envisions what a courtyard may look like when the NDSCS Career Innovation Center is completed in fall 2022. Image courtesy of NDSCS.
This rendering envisions what a courtyard may look like when the NDSCS Career Innovation Center is completed in fall 2022. Image courtesy of NDSCS.

Richman summed up Wednesday's event by stating the career center will help young adults grow while leading to a larger economic picture for the entire region.

"That's what we're doing here today in the middle of a cornfield," Richman said.

For more information visit: www.ndscs.edu/CIC.