Milton on list for BTC plan
MILTON A vacant manufacturing facility in Milton tops the list of potential sites for Blackhawk Technical College's proposed Advanced Manufacturing Training Center.
A site at the Iron Works complex in Beloit is no longer being considered.
BTC President Tom Eckert said Wednesday the college is taking a close look in Milton at the 104,000-square-foot building at 15 N. Plumb St., a facility that once housed Burdick Corp. and until earlier this year was the home of ANGI Energy Systems, which moved to Janesville.
"We've looked at a number of properties, and the one in Milton is at the top of our list," Eckert said. "We put out requests for proposals on buildings of 100,000 square feet that we could rent and then buy, and the Milton property fits that bill."
BTC initially worked with the Beloit-based Hendricks Development Group to renovate about 80,000 square feet of the Iron Works complex in Beloit.
Eckert said Wednesday the Beloit facility would require extensive renovation for use as classroom and technical education space. Given the economy, Eckert said he had difficulty raising the amount of private money such a renovation would require.
The former Burdick/ANGI building, however, would require less in renovation expenses, he said.
The Milton building, which is assessed at just more than $1 million, has about 80,000 square feet of industrial/warehouse space and 24,000 square feet of office space that could be converted into classrooms.
Eckert last year unveiled the idea of creating an off-campus center that would change the area's technical education offerings, particularly as they relate to local manufacturing.
The center, Eckert said at the time, would be flexible and incorporate the latest in manufacturing technology for use across several programs.
While the Milton building tops BTC's list of prospects for the center, the college still is in the preliminary stages of vetting the potential project.
Eckert said BTC's architects will take a look at the facility to see if it would meet the center's needs and, if so, at what cost.
In unveiling his idea last year, Eckert said the center would help dispel the stereotypical myths associated with manufacturing, namely that it's a profession that's dirty, dark and dangerous.
"Advanced manufacturing" is an industry tag designed to capture the integration of technology and automation in the manufacturing process. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor defines it as "the accelerated use of high-tech processes in the manufacturing plant."
Eckert last year said the center would give BTC the space necessary to make the college's program more relevant in a new and evolving manufacturing climate. The center would draw manufacturers to the area and help those already here with their growth and expansion, he said.