Newsom got to see that firsthand as he, Assemblymember Adam Gray, Congressman Jim Costa and local agricultural leaders toured the campus. Gray has been a huge advocate for the College getting the new facility built and played an integral role in getting the then Lt. Governor to visit the campus.
In January, Governor Newsom included in the budget the funding needed to move forward with the project. That money, coupled with Raj Kahlon’s extremely generous donation last March, will make the new, 20,000 sq. ft. ag-tech building a reality.
“Merced is an agricultural community and I am thrilled the Governor’s proposed budget includes the funding necessary to finally build a state-of-the-art Agriculture and Industrial Technology Building at Merced College,” Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli said.
“Making good on our promise to this community, we are going to build one of the best agriculture and industrial technology buildings possible to reflect the quality of our flagship programs,” Vitelli said. “This new facility will help our students learn cutting-edge industry skills and earn high-demand, high-wage jobs.”
The proposed building will consist of 20,000 square feet of classroom and laboratory space for programs in agribusiness, industrial technology, horticulture, HVAC, crop science and animal science. The added classrooms and labs will increase enrollment capacity by 2,248 weekly student contact hours, helping to keep pace with the 12-percent enrollment bump that the Chancellor’s Office predicts from 2016-2022.
The College is in the process of working with a prominent donor for naming rights to the building and hopes to make an announcement soon. If things remain unchanged on the May budget revision and June final budget, the College hopes to break ground on the project starting in Fall 2020.