Wednesday, June 29, 2022
June 29, 2022

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$1.5 million earmarked for Clark College to boost Ridgefield program

By , Columbian staff writer

Clark College will receive a $1.5 million federal earmark to aid in the development of the school’s Advanced Manufacturing Center in Ridgefield.

The award is part of a $1.6 trillion congressional omnibus bill that President Joe Biden signed on March 15 to fund the government for the remainder of the 2022 fiscal year, according to Sen. Maria Cantwell.

The funding for Clark College will be used to purchase necessary technology and equipment that will be used in the several engineering-related careers the Boschma Farms campus is expected to provide.

“We are grateful for the work of Sen. Cantwell and other members of the Washington delegation for securing this important funding,” Clark College President Karin Edwards said in a press release on Monday. “This enhances the college’s ability to move forward with the center’s critical mission of training a new generation of workers who must be fluent in technology.”

Students pursuing robotics, clean energy, manufacturing and material science at the Ridgefield campus will learn how to operate machine tools such as computer numerically controlled lathes, waterjet cutters, 3D printers and more. Among the specific focuses will be those careers in clean energy in which students will be trained as technicians in the emerging and expanding markets of solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

The campus will also offer classes in general education and provide supplemental opportunities for high school students enrolled in Running Start, a dual-enrollment program for 11th- and 12th-graders.

Kevin Damore, a spokesperson for Clark, said that the final building concept for the Boschma Farms campus will cost an estimated $48 million. The $1.5 million provided in this bill was not anticipated when planning for the project began in the mid-2010s.

Clark College anticipates a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new campus will be held sometime in June, with construction planned to start in early 2023.

In total, the omnibus bill will provide $51.7 million to the state, with an estimated $14.1 million of that being designated to 10 projects in Southwest Washington.

Congressional earmarks, also known as direct spending, were reintroduced in 2021 after a 10-year hiatus in response to calls for increased transparency in the distribution of federal awards.

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