From Dream to Reality: How Hudson Valley College Procured Funding for a $14.5 Million Center for Advanced Manufacturing Skills

On Sept. 3, 2019, the 37,000-square-foot Gene F. Haas Center for Advanced Manufacturing Skills (GHCAMS) will open its doors at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in Troy, NY. Just a dream in 2012, the new facility is now nearing completion, and other schools across the country are asking: “How did you go about funding a $14.5 million facility . . . and how can we?”

It’s difficult, but not impossible, and here is HVCC’s step-by-step approach.

The Beginning They started by developing a concrete idea – one they thought would fulfill a growing need in the region. They then gathered the necessary data to support that idea, and presented it to the administration, regional manufacturers, private benefactors, and local, state, and federal governments. This took time and persistence, and there were many hurdles. In fact, the highest hurdle for HVCC was the school’s administration; it wasn’t until 2015 – three years after the idea was put forth – that the administration came onboard.

Despite the administration’s initial reticence, the faculty developed a blueprint for the facility that later would save time and money when submitting the design to the architecture firm. Their efforts helped the firm quickly create a sharp and efficient design that eventually came in at the estimated cost.

Presenting the New Normal The only way to combat the growing shortage of skilled labor in manufacturing is to expand the availability of advanced manufacturing education. That is the new normal.

The HVCC faculty succeeded in their quest to expand their program by presenting the college with a detailed spreadsheet covering the short- and long-term benefits of the GHCAMS building. The data showed that, over a 10-year period, graduates of the program who entered manufacturing would generate an estimated $300 million in total salaries, with approximately $75 million in tax revenue going to local, state, and federal governments; and employee benefits totaling roughly $68 million.

These numbers showed a gradual, linear climb to capacity at the new facility, which was well received by the audience of partnering manufacturers, private benefactors, and local, state, and federal agencies. Without this data, the new normal they were advocating may not have gained traction.

The Key Players Assembling a team of people and partners who will tirelessly champion the cause is essential for a project like this to succeed. A faculty member who will not be deterred – regardless of obstacles – is key; and industry partnerships are crucial for overcoming hurdles and raising funds.

In the case of HVCC, the fundraising committee was hugely successful, thanks to Marty McGill, of the local Haas Factory Outlet, and David William Davis, of Simmons Machine Tool; and Regina LaGatta, of Hudson Valley Foundation, was instrumental in driving the project to completion.

Setting and Reaching Campaign Goals

Dave Larkin, Professor of Advanced Manufacturing Technology at HVCC, explains the campaign goals they set for the project, and how they determined the amount of funds needed from each party.

“We set a goal of raising $3.25 million from private donors and entities, $2.9 million from New York State, and $1.5 million from federal grants,” Larkin said. “In New York, all monies raised that are not state funds are matched by the state, dollar-for-dollar. Therefore, when we were able to raise $3.25 million, the state matched this figure, thus we had $6.5 million. The state also contributed $2.9 million in economic development funds, which brought us to $9.4 million. A federal grant for $1.5 million was matched by the state, thus another $3 million was raised to bring the total to $12.4 million. The college contributed $500,000 for the design portion of the building, and via long-term agreements, we received permission from our county sponsor to raise the remaining $1.5 million.” To put it simply, he stated, “The road to reach our funding goal was a long and winding one.”

In the end, what does the $14.5 million plus $2 million of in-kind donations leave the GHCAMS building with?

• A 5600-square-foot senior machining lab with 13 CNC milling/turning machine tools (12 different models)

• A 4600-square-foot freshmen machining lab that will have 10 manual knee mills and 10 manual lathes

• A 2100-square-foot electro-mechanical industrial maintenance lab

• A 1900-square-foot metrology lab, and a 1900-square-foot additive/metallurgy lab, both with 18 CAD/CAM student workstations

• Two 18-seat CAD/CAM labs, a 36-seat CAD/CAM lab, and three 34-seat classrooms

• A four-desk vendor office for visiting OEMs/reps/customers

• Two conference rooms, an EDM lab, grinding lab, capstone lab, and storage/prep room

With this new facility, the college can double its capacity, recruit students from new regions in New York, New England, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and have the ability and space to add new certificate programs for our industrial customers.

Hudson Valley Community College has been awarded the 2020 Annual CNC Educators Conference, which will take place July 27-31, 2020. I hope you can join us in beautiful upstate New York to preview our new facility. We hope to make this event a truly international affair.