Special to the Illinois Business Journal
EDWARDSVILLE – The year 2015 will long be remembered for the expanded commitment Lewis and Clark Community College made to the Edwardsville community.
In the coming year the impact will be apparent, both from the newly opened Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities in the former Lincoln School and the new St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab in the Historic N.O. Nelson Complex.
The Center for the Humanities in the 1200 block of Main Street is the start of a long-term project that will have an estimated $81 million economic impact. Plans call for addition of a 1,200-seat conference center, hotel, parking garage and STEM Center.
“The economic impact of this project on the region is enormous,” said Robert Watson, chair of the college board of trustees and a member of the foundation board. “It’s great that Lewis and Clark is able to play such an integral role in that effort.”
Namesake Mannie Jackson, a former Edwardsville resident and Lincoln alumnus, has pledged much of his own money toward seeing the project through, although state financing is being sought for the conference center. Jackson purchased the former Lincoln School before donating it a few years ago to Lewis and Clark.
The center opened in December, but the expanded project is planned for completion in 2017.
The Humanities Center is envisioned as an educational facility that will draw speakers and students from around the world seeking communication and understanding across a multicultural spectrum.
“Its purpose has the potential for moving humankind toward progress and solutions for our increasingly pluralistic and polarized society,” said Lewis and Clark President Dale Chapman.
Ret. U.S. Gen. Colin Powell is to be the center’s first major speaker at the foundation’s inaugural dinner on March 31 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Learn more about the center at www.mjchf.org.
A few miles away, the 5,000-square-foot St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab opened in November. It will be used in classroom instruction, and also by members of the public, who will be allowed to purchase memberships for use of space and equipment. The lab offers 3D printing, CNC, metalworking, welding, wood/plastic working, clean manufacturing, design, finishing and electronics.
“The lab is an extension of our architecture, drafting, industrial technology and welding programs,” said Sue Czerwinski, dean of career programs at Lewis and Clark. “Students will use that space for classwork, but the lab will also serve a community need. We can be a place where inventors who have ideas can come in and create a prototype, and hobbyists can come in and use tools they wouldn’t normally have access to.”
Inspired by the MIT Fab Lab model, the St. Louis Confluence Fab Lab is said to be unique to the area. Learn more at www.lc.edu/fablab.