Groundbreaking for new trades training facility in Negaunee

Officials break ground on a new state-of-the-art skilled trades training center in Negaunee Township. From left to right are MRCC Organizing Director Kevin Klingler, MRCC Business Agent Brian Kerrigan, state Rep. Scott Dianda, state Rep. Sara Cambensy, Marquette County Commission Chairman Gerry Corkin, Negaunee Township Supervisor Bill Carlson, Millwrights Local 1102 Director Mike Barnwell, Architectural Contractor Trades Executive Director Donna Pardonnet, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mike Jackson, United Brotherhood of Carpenters International representative Mike Kwiatkowski and Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights Statewide Training Director David Poletis.

NEGAUNEE — Officials broke ground Wednesday in Negaunee Township for a facility that will allow carpenters and millwrights to learn a variety of trades, ranging from building a house to improving skills such as welding.

About 100 community leaders, union officials, contractors and representatives of local organizations gathered at the site along U.S. 41 where the $6 million to $7 million, 30,000-square-foot training facility will stand.

The project is being funded by the Michigan Statewide Carpenters and Millwrights Joint Apprenticeship and Training Fund, which offers four-year apprenticeships in seven locations in Michigan.

Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mike Jackson said officials recognized the need to replace the existing facility on Division Street in Marquette.

“We need up-to-date, state-of-the-art training centers,” Jackson said. “You know, technology is moving very quickly, especially in the construction industry, so the timing in the U.P. is great for this, because you have seen a lot of development and a lot of work going on. The opportunity is now, and we need to upgrade our systems just like everybody else to give them the best training.”

State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, said the Negaunee Township facility will address a statewide shortage of people who work in the skilled trades.

“This project symbolizes an area that we are working hard on in the state, which is to bring back our skilled trades training and increase the number of people going into the skilled trades,” Cambensy said. “We know right now we have at least 100,000 jobs statewide that are not filled, and a training center like this – we’ve got them downstate, we don’t have one in the U.P., so this will help with the job shortage.”

The new training facility will include specially designed indoor areas for carpenters and millwrights to gain real-world experience, allowing union members to practice skills that are used to build everything from single-family homes to medical centers, bridges and schools. The center will also contain areas for woodshop training and welding booths to help members hone specialized skills, a Wednesday press release states.

“We are trying to get ahead of that curve again,” Jackson said. “So we are training young people to be the best skilled tradespeople on the planet. This type of facility will allow us to do that.”

Jackson said he hopes the construction of the facility will help his organization get its core message out to Upper Peninsula workers.

“If there is a young person that is looking for a career path and this fits them, they really need to reach out because this is a great opportunity to make a very good living, have a pension and health care, and it looks like work is going to be very steady for a long time to come,” Jackson said.

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