Michigan Legislature Approves Multi Million Dollar Innovation Center for NMC

TRAVERSE CITY — The Michigan legislature passed the state’s general government omnibus budget bill for FY 2016-17 late Wednesday night, which includes more than seven million dollars for the West Hall Innovation Center. The project will transform the existing hall into a state-of-the-art learning center providing 38,000 square feet of space to accommodate the use of simulation, team-based and project learning across all curricula. The renovation of the 50-year-old building on the Front Street campus is part of the college’s efforts to update and modernize its facilities.

The new center will provide 13 new adaptive learning labs to allow for traditional classroom space, hackerspace and entrepreneurial activities. The total project will also include an NMC-funded 15,000-square-foot library that will further enhance the State’s Capital Outlay investment.

“We are fortunate to have such great support amongst our local legislative leaders including State Representative Larry Inman, State Senator Wayne Schmidt and State Senator Darwin Booher, who chairs the Capital Outlay Committee in the Senate. Their tireless efforts in Lansing helped to move this project from start to finish and we are very appreciative of their support for NMC,” said President Timothy J. Nelson.

Since 2005, among Michigan’s 28 community colleges, NMC ranks 23rd in capital outlay appropriations, having received only $650,000 in state investment. President Nelson of Northwestern Michigan College says, “Creating this centralized space on campus is critical for the new community college model of providing competency based, content based, knowledge application in the pursuit of social, economic and talent development. Over the last six years, we have invested significant time and effort in requesting funding for this project. We are pleased our legislators have recognized our dedication and commitment and are helping to make this investment a reality, for our learners now and into the future.”

After reducing the total project cost by 20% to $14,499,400 in its FY17 application, the scoring of the West Hall Innovation Center moved NMC up from ranking 14th statewide in FY16 to ranking 3rd this year in the Governor’s budget. “This is a great step forward to build on the college’s smart financial decisions and leverage additional local resources so that we can provide the best possible environment for our learners,” said President Nelson. As a requirement for funding from the state, NMC will work to leverage additional resources to be used as 1:1 matching funds for this project. This is the third major construction project slated for NMC over the next year and a half, and represents a significant public investment to complement the active philanthropic efforts and demonstrated financial foresight exhibited by NMC leadership.

“Among my top priorities as a Member of the Michigan House of Representative Appropriations Committee and member of the House Community Colleges Appropriations Committee was to fight for this Capital Outlay funding for Northwestern Michigan College”, said State Representative Larry Inman , 104th, Grand Traverse County. “I am so pleased as a NMC Past Alumnus of the year, along with Senator Schmidt and Senator Booher, that we were able to bring this project across the finish line, among the many other Capital Outlay projects that were considered. This is a huge win for NMC, and our students in our area and to attract more students to NMC, having one the most innovative Community College Campus and Learning Centers in the State. I am so proud I was part of the team to get this project awarded to NMC.”

“As a longstanding supporter of Northwestern Michigan College, I am very pleased to have played a role in helping to secure resources for this significant project,” said State Senator Wayne Schmidt, who represents the 37th State Senate District in Northern Michigan. “This investment by the State will not only benefit learners in my community, but will also support innovative spaces for learners from around the state and world who are attracted to NMC for its diverse educational opportunities. I am proud of NMC for their work on this and am glad I was able to push this project across the finish line.”

Said State Senator Darwin Booher, representing the 35th State Senate District, “The West Hall Innovation Center Renovation and Expansion project expands the educational opportunities that NMC offers and helps continue to make NMC a leader in higher education in our region. As senate chair of the Capital Outlay subcommittee, I have reviewed all of the projects submitted and know that this is one of the best projects for equipping people for the jobs of tomorrow.”

The legislature's action this week and the Governor’s anticipated signature in the weeks ahead mean that NMC can move forward with the planning, engineering and design stages of the project this summer and fall. Then, given state approval of this work and local matching dollars raised, construction is slated to begin next spring.

Release date: June 9, 2016

For more information:

Vicki Cook
Vice President of Finance and Administration
(231) 995-1144


Northwestern Michigan College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, height, weight, marital status or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions. nmc.edu/non-discrimination