iTech Glades Technical College idea pitched to Tallahassee

Posted 10/23/19

MOORE HAVEN — The Collier County School District is “all in” on a five-county collaborative effort to establish the state’s 50th technical college at the Glades County Regional Training …

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iTech Glades Technical College idea pitched to Tallahassee


MOORE HAVEN — The Collier County School District is “all in” on a five-county collaborative effort to establish the state’s 50th technical college at the Glades County Regional Training Facility.

Officials who are behind the push to finally utilize the multimillion-dollar center fully as it was intended — which has been under discussion for two years or more — are not confining their ultimate goal to just that anymore, however. Now, they want to make it Florida’s first college to be operated by a school district outside its county borders.

To try to convince state legislators of the wisdom of that, a compelling video has been produced by the Collier district on behalf of all the organizations that hold a stake in making the facility a true educational hub. Hendry County Adult Education reposted the YouTube video on its Facebook page on Thursday, Oct. 17.

“This facility will provide so many opportunities for our region. Our expansion is coming, and what a great way to train,” the post said. The Hendry County School District and its Career & Technical Education Department are key stakeholders in the effort. They already operate adult schools in both Clewiston and LaBelle. The new iTech Glades would offer similar but more options for the northern counties of Highlands and Okeechobee as well as Glades in between, also having the effect of enhancing Hendry’s offerings.

The video tells lawmakers, its intended audience, “Despite nearly three years of focus groups which identified diesel mechanics, welding, truck driving and nursing programming, among others, those involved have ultimately concluded that the operation of the facility needed to be transferred to an existing institution that has the knowledge to open and run the center successfully.”

Jobs Growth Grant sought
So, it continues, “iTech Glades Technical College, a five-county initiative including Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee and Collier County school districts, is requesting a Florida Jobs Growth Grant to renovate, equip and staff the existing Glades regional training center located in Moore Haven… this will establish a Glades County branch campus of Immokalee Technical College, thus maximizing the sustainability of an underutilized facility, providing much needed post-secondary training for the region.”

The first courses offered, it says, will include 12 locally targeted occupations from the three surrounding workforce regions. And, “We believe that Collier County Public Schools has a proven track record, provides postsecondary training and has the capacity and expertise to fill the needs for the Heartland Region.

The video shows scenes from inside the training center, where some classes are being conducted already, notes that “classrooms can (be opened) rapidly upon funding” and calls this an “exciting regional approach to workforce training.”

After giving glimpses into all the existing classrooms at the training center, the video flashes to a floor plan and the narrator describes those additional plans:

“There was an additional wing built out for… welding, heating and air conditioning, and diesel mechanics programming. We are proposing to add some additional classrooms and lab spaces to the existing shelled-in space while leaving room for future growth. We are proposing the addition of a culinary arts lab and classroom; this area with an adjoining restaurant will act as a hub for students to gather, similar to a student union. We are also proposing a health science lab and classroom, and a classroom space for diesel mechanics.

“We feel that this appropriation is perfect timing to bring the Glades County regional training center to life while effectively opening Florida’s 50th public technical college.”

At present, classes in truck driving for students to qualify for a commercial driver license and citizenship courses are being offered there.

The video says that with over $5.5 million already having been spent to build the center, “Let’s finish the job and open iTech Glades Technical College to help the Heartland Region to meet the original goals set for world-class workforce training. This initiative is supported by many partners who all feel that this is the right way to finish the job. Let’s make dreams come true and provide a solid foundation for economic development in the future,” it concludes.

Support for this initiative is wide and deep across the region, with every government and civic body declaring support, along with major employers including Everglades Equipment, Lykes Bros., U.S. Sugar Corp. and others.