Utah lawmakers, along with industry, business and education leaders, received their first glimpse of Salt Lake Community College’s new 121,000-square-foot Westpointe Workforce Training & Education Center during a grand opening celebration held on Wednesday.
“I need this as a father,” said Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, gesturing to the Westpointe building behind him. “I need to have a state where I know my children will have good jobs and will be able to raise families. It’s things like today, moments like today, that are going to make sure we have those opportunities.”
Strategically located in Salt Lake City’s industrial northwest quadrant near Salt Lake City International Airport, Westpointe will be integral to the Wasatch Front’s long-term economic vitality. The unique facility is designed to support the community by providing education and training in key industries that are critical to the region’s economic success, including welding, machining, diesel systems technology, injection molding, composites manufacturing, commercial driving and other high-demand fields. The center houses eight classrooms, 34 lab spaces and a three-acre lot for commercial truck driving, along with more than 100 welding bays, a large diesel maintenance facility and an injection molding lab.
Utah Governor’s Office Education Advisor, Tami Pyfer, said she was not prepared when she took the job more than four years ago for the “enormity” of the gap in supply of a skilled workforce. “I’m so pleased with what we’re seeing happening in this state and an increased emphasis on technical education,” Pyfer said about the opening of Westpointe. “Let me tell you, technical education is for everyone.”
Westpointe also allows SLCC to fulfill its mission as Salt Lake County’s primary post-secondary provider of workforce education and will serve a significant portion of SLCC’s 28,000 students enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) courses each year. The college offers 106 certificate programs in CTE, along with 32 degree programs and 29 non-credit certificate programs in CTE.
“At Westpointe, students will receive hands-on education and experience in a number of important trades,” said SLCC President Dr. Deneece G. Huftalin. “It will not only be a boon to students but also to our region by allowing us to maintain our economic prosperity through the development of a top-notch workforce.”
Besides serving as a one-of-a-kind, one-stop educational center, Westpointe offers space for collaboration with industry partners, allowing students the opportunity to interface with Utah’s leading companies in the industrial trades. Many of these companies have partnered with SLCC and have generously supported the ongoing operations for the center.
Utah Sen. Gene Davis echoed his colleagues’ comments about the need for strategically located training centers like Westpointe and for infrastructure to support a growing economy. “Now with this building and the commitment of our community college,” Davis added, “it’s going to be vocation, vocation, vocation, which is the most important thing we can do for Utah.”
Keeping with the college’s green initiative, Westpointe draws power from a 504-kilowatt solar array that covers most of the building’s roof with 1,440 solar panels, each capable of producing 350 watts of power.
Salt Lake Community College is an accredited, student-focused, comprehensive community college meeting the diverse needs of the Salt Lake community. Home to more than 60,000 students each year, the college is Utah’s leading provider of workforce development programs and the largest supplier of transfer students to Utah’s four-year institutions. SLCC is also a top 10 college nationally for total associate degrees awarded and the leading provider of applied technology courses in the Salt Lake area.