Wentzville aldermen approve city subsidy for Ranken Tech branch

2012-02-08T09:30:00Z 2012-05-10T14:25:19Z Wentzville aldermen approve city subsidy for Ranken Tech branchBY MARK SCHLINKMANN • mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com > 636-255-7203 stltoday.com

WENTZVILLE • The Board of Aldermen has signed off on a city subsidy of as much as $360,000 to entice St. Louis-based Ranken Technical College to set up a satellite campus.

Aldermen voted 5-0 on Wednesday night for the agreement with Ranken.  If Ranken's board approves the deal as expected, classes could begin in Wentzville with the fall school year.

City officials say they'd try to get corporations and others to cover some of the city's dollar commitment.

Supporters of the plan say Ranken would offer courses not now offered in St. Charles County and help add to a base of workers with technical expertise for local companies such as General Motors. 

Locating Ranken in Wentzville, they said, also could help attract other companies to move there.

"We are attracting a true partner that will provide longterm return benefit to our citizens, to our employees," said Larry Tucker, the city's business development manager.

Tucker and Ranken's president, Stan Shoun, said the city and Ranken have yet to decide on a location. They said a vacant building on the CenturyLink campus is one possibility.

That spot was mentioned last summer when news of the possible Wentzville-Ranken connection first broke.

Shoun estimated that the satellite site could handle 50 to 150 students in the first year.  The nonprofit 104-year-old school has 2,200 students at its 11-building main location on Finney Avenue in St. Louis.

The agreement approved by aldermen calls for Wentzville classes to include "but not be limited to" general education, architecture/design technology, information technology and industrial/manufacturing.

The city plans to pay rent of as much as $80,000 a year for whatever building is selected for the classes.

There would be room for four to five classrooms and one or two computer classrooms. The city also would pay $120,000 to support staffing at the site. 

Greg Prestemon, president of the Economic Development Center of St. Charles County, said there is risk involved but that the city's move is "a bold step."

He said technical training is a missing piece in St. Charles County's educational set-up and Ranken would help fill it.

Prestemon said his quasi-public agency would help the city try to raise private money to help cover some of the cost.


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