Getting technical - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Getting technical

NIC to hold three public meetings to gather community input on a new professional technical education facility

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Posted: Friday, April 5, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Before North Idaho College makes a decision on the size, scope and location of a new Professional Technical Education facility, it wants to hear from you.

To that end, NIC has scheduled two public meetings at the end of this month and one more in May to gather thoughts from a broad cross-section of the community.

"We need as much input as possible from the community," said Mark Browning, the college's vice president of community relations and marketing.

Browning said he will facilitate the structured meetings. He will present the findings of a recently released study of the issue and he hopes to hear from employers, students, faculty and the general public.

"Given where we are at now, we want to understand what their needs will be five years, 10 years and 20 years from now," he said, adding that information will be used to determine things like how big the building should be, what programs they should focus on and where to locate the facility.

The study was conducted by RGU Architecture and Planning. (See info box on jump). It provides the NIC Board of Trustees with a variety of options they should consider while planning the project, and it ranks many of the options against the college's strategic priorities.

One of NIC's main priorities is to expand its technical training programs to meet the demands of employers and potential employees.

Browning said many of the technical programs they have now are maxed out, and programs like welding and diesel mechanics, for instance, have waiting lists of up to 100 people. NIC has the ability to train just a fraction of those potential students.

That dynamic can be frustrating for employers seeking to hire more welders, but it can also frustrate potential students who are eager to get trained and into the workforce.

"Students have a huge stake in this," Browning said, adding faculty does as well.

NIC Trustee Ron Nilson, who owns Ground Force Manufacturing in Post Falls, is very interested in the project. Nilson was instrumental in raising the money to build the Kootenai Technical Education Campus, known as KTEC, a professional technical high school on the Rathdrum Prairie.

As a large employer in need of a technically trained workforce, Nilson has very strong opinions on how NIC's technical program should be built out and where it should be located, but he said he could be pursuaded to change his mind if the community input is compelling.

Nilson doesn't agree with many of the conclusions in the RGU study, and he feels the board should continue on its track to locate the new facility on land the college bought near KTEC eight years ago. The study recommends building the facility on the existing Coeur d'Alene campus to take advantage of all the services NIC offers.

"If we do this right," Nilson said, "We could have a huge economic engine for this community."

He said the study estimates a building cost of $280 per square foot on the NIC campus.

"We could do that for half the cost if we locate it on the Rathdrum Prairie," he said. "We built KTEC for around $140 per square foot."

Nilson said the price difference has to do with the way the facility will be designed to match the other academic buildings on campus, but on the KTEC campus the building could take on a more industrial look and save money.

"We just have differing priorities," he said. "With the money we would save building on the prairie, I think we could have something much bigger and much more elaborate."

NIC Trustee Christie Wood said she's waiting to form an opinion until she hears more from the public.

Wood said she thinks the consultant did a good job study, but she emphasized the study is not the end of the process.

"The trustees truly are in the information gathering stage, she said. "We really need the input before we move forward with this."

If you go

North Idaho College is hosting three public meetings to gather the community's input on plans to build a new Professional Technical Education facility. Here are the times, dates and locations of the meetings:

April 15 - 7 to 8 p.m. in the Lake Room of the Edminster Student Union Building on the North Idaho College campus

April 29 - 7 to 8 p.m. in the Lake Room of the Edminster Student Union Building on the North Idaho College campus

May 6 - 7 to 8 p.m. in the Driftwood Room of the Edminster Student Union Building on the North Idaho College campus.

The RGU study can be accessed online here:

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • local res posted at 5:51 pm on Sat, Apr 6, 2013.

    local res Posts: 1165

    I am not willing to pay more taxes for NIC!

  • local res posted at 5:50 pm on Sat, Apr 6, 2013.

    local res Posts: 1165

    Why build the tech center as the current center has a waiting list and has limited job opportunities here locally.

  • local res posted at 5:47 pm on Sat, Apr 6, 2013.

    local res Posts: 1165

    As NIC grows the fort grounds shrink from eminent domain. Get use to is now fort grounds residents.

  • local res posted at 5:46 pm on Sat, Apr 6, 2013.

    local res Posts: 1165

    trustee woods is waiting to hear from the public? that's a good one. She has not listen to us before.

  • babydriver posted at 10:03 am on Sat, Apr 6, 2013.

    babydriver Posts: 1393

    Reducing government intrusion, mandates and regulation would go infinitely further in
    rectifying these problems.

    The public school systems spend millions each year teaching kids how not to think for themselves,
    so that we can then turn around and teach them something they should learn ON THE JOB.

    Except of course that companies cannot afford to do that because of GOVERNMENT.

  • bionic man posted at 6:08 pm on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    How much more will NIC want to add to our property taxes?????

  • witness posted at 1:43 pm on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    witness Posts: 58

    Chart 1.3 in the study shows that eight of the 11 programs slated for rapid expansion in the proposed large new facility already enroll more students than there are annual job openings in the county. The column of "nearing retirement" is an unusual "guesstimate" tacked on to temper the negative impression created by the obvious over-enrollment. The study further mentions that a few local employers have sponsored internal company training programs (like that was a bad thing that should be quickly replaced by costly taxpayer funded programs at NIC.) This study seems to be targeted to fulfill Coeur d'Alene's Educational Corridor vision (must be that key Cd'A city leaders are concerned that the Educational Corridor has found its mission as the Educational Parking Lot.)

  • Flash Gordon posted at 1:24 pm on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    Flash Gordon Posts: 1651

    Of course Ron Nilson is very interested in this project. As long as North Idaho College takes his recommendation regarding where "it" should be located over the RGU study then Nilson appears agreeable. Mr Nilson should excuse himself from any deliberations on this matter because of an apparent conflict of interest.

    The facility should be located within the education corridor and as close to the main campus as possible. It would be a double whammy irony if the education corridor was not utilized for what it was originally bought for.....

  • boohoo2U posted at 9:14 am on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    boohoo2U Posts: 406

    How about NIC confining its education efforts to the original community college charter?
    Why hook KootCo Taxpayers to fund satellite campuses for LCSC, UofI, and NOW Boise University.?

  • ancientemplar posted at 8:23 am on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1283

    Keep the campus together might be a great concept but along with that the entire campus should be moved to the prairie where it is more accessible and be on less expensive land. It would have less of a detrimental impact on the fort grounds, CdA traffic and that land could be sold for a higher and better use. That direction should have been adopted in the 80's

  • SamuelStanding posted at 7:45 am on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    SamuelStanding Posts: 612

    I agree with you Voxpop. There are studies/statistics showing a lack of employers investing in employee training and what better way to increase your employee base, than have someone else (taxpayers) pay for your job niche'?

    KTEC offers welding, NIC offers welding. KTEC is part of the primary education system here in N ID. NIC is a community college, where students take out loans or pay for their education. Doesn't anyone see this training as being pushed off on taxpayers? There is not a guarentee that these high school welders will stay in N ID! There are few welding companies with employees already invested in the community (homes, families, etc). These existing employees are not going anywhere anytime soon and ID does not encourage business (manufacturing)/growth so taxpayers are paying for a trade of individuals most likely having to leave our area. NIC can offer the program at the student's expense, the campus needs to be in one locale or students will not attend courses. Keep it at the NIC campus, tuition costs should be aiding in construction and reconstruction. How about hiring the students who build the home for the "Really big raffel" and keep most of it IN-House?

  • voxpop posted at 5:42 am on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    "If we do this right," Nilson said, "We could have a huge economic engine for this community."

    That's been said countless times by business special interests looking to gain access to taxpayer funding for their own personal benefit. However, it never happens. NEVER. If the KC republicans REALLY want to go after an out of control taxing authority, forget about KMC and go after NIC.

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