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Jacobetti Complex project put on hold

This is a rendering of future Career Tech and Engineering Technology Facility at Northern Michigan University. The Northern Michigan University’s transformational renovation of the Jacobetti Complex into an upgraded facility was put on hold by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s actions this week to reprioritize and bolster state funding to combat COVID-19. (Picture courtesy of NMU)

MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University’s transformational renovation of the Jacobetti Complex into a Career Tech and Engineering Technology Facility was put on hold by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s actions this week to reprioritize and bolster state funding to combat COVID-19.

Whitmer signed two supplemental appropriations bills worth $150 million to address the pandemic. She also issued $80 million in line-item vetoes to reprioritize funding that had been earmarked for five community college and university capital outlay projects, including Northern’s, along with a number of other items.

“This is a setback, but a necessary one in the face of the crisis,” NMU President Fritz Erickson wrote in an email to the campus community. “To everyone who worked so hard to get the project’s funding to the governor’s desk for signing, thank you for your efforts; they are not wasted. When the crisis has passed, our efforts to advance this project will resume.”

The $28.6 million Jacobetti renovation was included in the supplemental appropriations bill in December 2018. It calls for the modernization of existing classrooms, a new educational manufacturing design center and flexible laboratories for skilled trades learning and product/equipment testing and training.

The project was in the third step of a three-step state process that included approval, planning authorization and construction authorization. This was the last step before construction.

“We are disappointed, but understand the situation the governor is in,” said Gavin Leach, vice president for Finance and Administration. “We are hopeful the project will get back on track when the COVID situation stabilizes. The veto eliminated the construction authorization, so a new vote would be required to move the project forward. That may be possible, depending on the status of the state budget this fall.”

The revamped Career Tech and Engineering Technology Facility will provide NMU students and area professionals with cutting-edge training tools and technology. It aligns with the State of Michigan’s goal to increase career-technical education to prepare a skilled workforce to meet growing industry demand.

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