The Career and Technical Education Enhancement proposal has advanced to the Michigan House for a vote.

North Central Michigan College's $10 million plan to expand healthcare, manufacturing and skilled trades education took an important step forward late yesterday as state lawmakers approved legislation to fund the college’s Career and Technical Education Enhancement project, or CATEE.

CATEE includes a total renovation of North Central’s 59-year-old Technology Building to accommodate additional state-of-the-art machinery and emerging technologies related to robotics engineering, automotive diagnostics and repair, CAD and CNC machining, mechatronics, welding and construction.

The project also includes a renovation and expansion of the existing Health Education and Science Center to accommodate the college’s growing nursing and allied health programs in order to meet regional and statewide demands for healthcare graduates.

“CATEE will transform our ability to offer world-class education in areas that are critical to Northern Michigan and the entire state,” said North Central President David Roland Finley. “Michigan’s future depends on a highly educated, well-trained workforce in areas including nursing, allied health, automation, mechatronics, robotics, and many of the skilled trades that drive our economy.”    

The CATEE capital outlay request was included in House Bill 4016, a $1.3 billion supplemental appropriations bill sponsored by state Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township) that includes $630 million for a proposed Ford Motor Co. electric vehicle battery plant near Marshall. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 22-16, which included support from state Sen. John Damoose (R-Harbor Springs), who said the inclusion of CATEE—plus an additional $3.75 million for Northwestern Michigan College’s aviation program—was critical to securing his support.

“Over the past several weeks, I have been fighting for funds that will help our region and the state and working with whoever I can in Lansing to represent our district well,” Damoose said in a statement. “First and foremost, I am proud to have been able to secure nearly $10 million for North Central Michigan College in Petoskey for the creation of the new Career and Technical Education Enhancement Center. This funding will help address the serious workforce development challenges throughout our region.”

The bill now heads to the Michigan House of Representatives. If approved by the House, it will move to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk for final approval, which could come by the end of the week. Once approved, funding would go into effect immediately.

“We trust our state representatives will see the value in supporting critical infrastructure and workforce development that will ensure Michigan’s economic vitality,” Finley said. “We look forward to their expeditious approval.”