Construction of the newly renovated Butte College Skyway Center is well underway. This facility which opens in August will provide space for the college's automotive technology program, the economic and workforce development programs, and the Foster/Kinship Care program. The college used Chico Redevelopment Agency funding of $6 million to purchase and renovate the building, which was formerly the Austin's Furniture Store.
The Butte College automotive technology program has outgrown the space it occupies on the main campus in Oroville. This highly successful program produces graduates who are able to gain immediate employment as entry-level auto technicians. Relocating to the Skyway Center enables the automotive program to expand into a 16,000 square foot shop lab with classrooms and a computer lab to offer instruction in automotive industry sustainable practices, including hybrid technology and hydrogen propulsion. This relocation also provides space to add a new high school automotive technology program in partnership with the Butte County Regional Occupational Program (ROP) which will offer career pathways for high school students.
Also relocating to the Skyway Center are the college's economic development programs including the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Contract Education/Training Place, and the Health Workforce Initiative. Previously SBDC and the Health Workforce Initiative rented space at different locations in Chico while Contract Education/Training Place was at the college's Chico Center. With the completion of the Skyway Center, these programs will be consolidated in one location which will make it easier for the business community to access these services.
The Foster/Kinship Care Program, like many of the economic development programs, occupies rented space in Chico and will be moving to the Skyway Center. The move to the Skyway Center enables these programs to redirect money currently spent on rent to delivering services and will significantly improve efficiency through shared conference rooms, classrooms, labs, and administrative resources.
Renovation work to the 52,220 square foot building began in May 2011. In addition to adding classrooms, computer labs, office spaces, and programs, a new parking lot with lighting, new HVAC equipment, audio visual technology, data and communications, and installation of automotive equipment were added. Some space will not be developed with the first phase of the project and will be used to meet future college requirements.
By working closely with the City of Chico and reacting quickly and at the right time--the Butte College Skyway Center demonstrates how a public entity can take advantage of an opportunity to provide better service to the community at a reasonable cost by renovating an existing building. We're excited about our new facility and the possibilities it will offer to our students and the communities we serve.