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Heartland Community College

Heartland cuts ribbon on Advanced Manufacturing Center

February 27, 2024

Heartland Community College celebrated the opening of a new facility designed for the instruction of state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing programs including Electric Vehicle Technology, High-Voltage Energy Storage, Robotics, Renewable Energy, and Automation. 

Funded in part by a $7.5 million State of Illinois grant from the Rebuild Illinois capital plan, Heartland’s Advanced Manufacturing Center features the State Farm Electric Vehicle Laboratory, the permanent home of the College’s pathbreaking Electric Vehicle/Energy Storage program which launched in 2021. 

“Programs like the Manufacturing Training Academy at Heartland represent the best of the innovation and care for students that Illinois community colleges are putting forth every day,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “With this lab as a resource, Heartland students will graduate prepared for jobs of the future that are hiring right now—a pathway to a career that will last.” 

Construction of the 45,000 square foot facility began in the fall of 2022. The $17M facility incorporates remodeled space to further support programs such as robotics, HVAC, welding, and digital media, in addition to the newly constructed State Farm EV Lab. 

On Tuesday, February 27, Heartland staff were joined by Governor JB Pritzker, representation from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Affairs (DCEO), local officials, and industry leaders for a ribbon cutting ceremony of the Center. 

“The State of Illinois is investing in the clean energy jobs of the future through its support of Heartland Community College’s state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing training facility,” said DCEO Director Kristin Richards. “Together, we’re opening the doors to opportunities for Illinois’ world-class workforce by providing them with the tools to pursue meaningful careers in the clean energy industry and beyond.” 

The Heartland Advanced Manufacturing Center is designed to support the growing need for Career Technical Education programs that balance out the robust curriculum for transfer-oriented students at the college.

“As the makeup of our regional workforce has changed so has the need for specialized skill training,” said Heartland Community College President Keith Cornille. “This Advanced Manufacturing Center supports degree-oriented and short-term programs in vital Career Technical Education areas. This is the work-ready skill training that leads to in-demand jobs. Eighty percent of Heartland graduates in career programs find employment. By expanding these educational pathways, we will help students find a job, have an opportunity to upskill for a better job, and a career.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Center project is funded in a public/private partnership with programmatic and financial support from local business leaders. In August of 2023, State Farm® provided a $1 million grant to support the 6,278 square foot Heartland electric vehicle/energy storage training facility. 

“We are thrilled the State Farm Electric Vehicle Lab is ready to welcome students,” said Apsara Sorensen, State Farm Assistant Vice President of Corporate Responsibility. “This innovative hands-on learning environment created by Heartland Community College will equip students for in-demand job opportunities in Central Illinois and beyond. We are proud to team up with Heartland to help students realize their dreams.” 

Manufacturing in McLean County, the center of Heartland’s service area, generates $2 billion in total annual economic output and supports over 7,000 jobs. On the state level, Illinois has more than 15,000 manufacturers that employ 750,000 individuals. 

"Illinois community colleges are a leading workforce developer in the state and are continuing to expand access and opportunities to dozens of good paying careers," said Brian Durham, Executive Director of the Illinois Community College Board. "CTE programs at community colleges are an essential part of our state's workforce development strategy, and we are proud to be a part of preparing the next generation of workers." 

Heartland offers over 20 “work ready” manufacturing or industrial support programs including a two-year Electric Vehicle Technology Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree as well as four short-term certificates which include EV Maintenance and Light Repair, EV Energy Storage, EV Service Advisor, and EV Technology. The AAS and Certificates are designed to prepare individuals with the skills and competencies necessary for a variety of successful career options.

Written by: Steve Fast