By Joe Southern
Officials with Houston Community College, Missouri City and others in the region gathered May 4 at City Hall for a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony for the new college campus going up on the lot next door.
The $21.5 million, 67,000-square-foot facility will be known as the Missouri City Center for Entrepreneurship, Technology and Health and should be completed next April with classes starting in the fall of 2017.
“Moving this campus from Sienna Plantation to Texas Parkway could not have come at a better time,” said Madeline Burillo, HCC Southwest College President. “This city and population are growing and has recently been ranked as one of America’s 50 best cities in which to live.”
She praised the growth and diversity of the community in the college’s decision to relocate the campus.
“It has a diverse mix of professional, technical, skilled and unskilled labor all that are relocating to Missouri City and Fort Bend County. This provides HCC with a great opportunity to get aligned with the needs of the companies and to train students to work in these jobs that are in high demand in our community,” she said.
HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado also played on the diversity theme in his remarks, observing a poster of a bridge span on his office wall with the caption, “Together we are stronger.”
“The diversity of this community brings to Texas, to the area around here, with Fort Bend County being the fastest-growing county in the country, our partnership with City of Missouri City, its leaders, and Fort Bend County and its leaders, together we are stronger. That message is clear today,” he said.
Addressing one of the criticisms of the project, Maldonado said the new campus will compliment, not detract, from the HCC campus a short distance away in Stafford.
“We have up the road here another campus in Stafford that’s vibrant and growing and this campus here is going to compliment that campus,” he said. “There’s going to be a focus here that’s different from our Stafford campus. Together we are stronger.
“We’ll be focused on entrepreneurship, as you’ve already heard, on technology, on healthcare and that ever-growing public safety and healthcare arena where there’s a continual demand for new technology or customer service or high responsiveness from law enforcement from public life safety. Those areas are going to be areas that we’re going to bring instruction to in this community,” he said.
Maldonado said building partnerships will be vital to the success of the new campus.
“Together we’re stronger partnering with other areas and other campuses at Houston Community College. Our Coleman College is the headquarters is the center of excellence in health science, but it doesn’t live on an island. It interacts with the entire system of Houston Community College. And we will have a strong presence here in healthcare, supported by Coleman College and all the other colleges in the Houston Community College system.
“We’re working with universities to have them present here as well. We’re working with the county and city library services, on transportation to make this a vibrant fast-growing campus to be able to meet the needs and requirements of this community and in fact of the entire Houston Community College system,” he said.
HCC Board of Trustees Chair Adriana Tamez said the new campus will open doors in the community.
“We are going to make more opportunities for the future, for the future workforce, whether that be that HCC and this particular partnership and all of our facilities prepare students for four-year university, for two-year associates degree, for certification, whatever it may be it’s about the future, so today is a very important day and we’re very excited to have a bigger presence here in Fort Bend County,” she said.
HCC Trustee Neeta Sane said it is important for the college and the community to work together.
“Our focus and priorities are to make sure we align our education program with the regional needs,” she said. “We are making sure that we fill the skills gap in the job market.”
Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen pointed out the strategic partnerships that were formed to make the campus move deal come together.
“By moving the campus here the people in Sienna and that area get a county annex, which they’ve needed for a long time, and we end up with a library over here that’s going to be three stories. It’s a great improvement to the entire area. That’s what this campus is bringing to the Texas Parkway,” he said. “This is a $30 million investment that’s going to grow even better as things happen.”
Owen is in talks with METRO to create a bus route that will stop in front of the new campus.
“Now that HCC campus is here, I feel it is important to get them involved and provide bus service to the campus,” said Owen.
According to Burillo, the new building will be energy efficient, constructed with sustainable methods and will meet LEED Silver Certification requirements which is one of the highest international construction standards focused on preserving the environment and maintaining energy efficient practices.