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Ashland is poisimageed to become home to a new technical college. Construction is expected to start in the summer on a campus of the St. Louis-based Ranken Technical College.

Ranken offers bachelor’s and associate degrees and certificate programs with divisions in automotive, architecture, construction, electrical, information technology, manufacturing and advanced and continuing education, according to its website.

The Ashland campus will specialize in programs for construction trades, information technology and medical training, said Chris Felmlee, superintendent of the Southern Boone School District.

The $6 million campus will be located on 5 acres east of Highway 63 and south of the Ashland overpass, according to an email from Bill Lloyd, project manager and chair of the Southern Boone Economic Development Council. Construction is likely to take a year, Lloyd said.

Ranken administrators, in partnership with the Southern Boone district and the city of Ashland, are awaiting the letter of confirmation on a $4.5 million federal Economic Development Administration grant. “We have been given the green light,” Felmlee said.

The partnership is seeking input from community leaders on the curriculum and building design, Felmlee said.

“(Ranken) is different,” he said. “Its curriculum is designed exclusively around partnerships within the industry.”

Ranken has been around since 1907, according to its website. In addition to its main campus in St. Louis, Ranken has locations in Wentzville and Perryville.

Construction is underway for a location in Troy, just north of Wentzville, which broke ground in June 2020. After construction there is done, the Wentzville and Troy locations will be known collectively as Ranken West Campus, said Sherri Elford, administrative assistant to Ranken President Don Pohl.

Plans for the Ashland project began two years ago, Felmlee said. He was looking for higher education partners to create more opportunities for students in the district after graduation.

“I was interested in revitalizing the high school curriculum,” Felmlee said.
He called the decision to partner mutual.

The project began “as a result of a group of Ashland community leaders recognizing the gap that exists between industry who need technically trained people and the number of technically trained folks coming out of schools/training centers,” Lloyd said.

Columbia Missourian - February 11, 2021

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