Rushmore Region high school students with an interest in metal manufacturing will have a head start on becoming machinists through a new Career & Technical Education (CTE) program from Sturgis Brown High School.
The school’s new CTE machinist program will be located in the 5,100 square-foot business incubator facility at the Sturgis Industrial Park, a South Dakota Certified Ready Site. The facility is scheduled to be completed in 2015. The space will be shared by CTE machinist shop and classroom and industrial startups.
The CTE machine shop facility will have the capacity to offer training space for other Northern Hills high schools, and could benefit adult education as well, said Pat Kurtenbach, president of Sturgis Economic Development Corp.
“Metal-related manufacturing is a large part of Sturgis’s industrial sector and is a huge contributor to our economy each year,” said Kurtenbach. “These funds are helping to not only develop commercial and industrial growth, but ultimately it’s investing in the future — our future workforce.”
Two Future Fund grants totaling $189,967, awarded by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to the Meade School District and SEDC, and an additional $99,999 from USDA Rural Development, are funding the CTE program.
Because metal fabrication, welding and other metal-related manufacturing are key economic drivers for the Meade County economy, Kurtenbach says the new CTE program will have a profound impact on other offshoots of the metal-industry as well; everything from oil and motorcycles to the SHOT industry (Shooting, Hunting & Outdoors), another one of Sturgis’s major industries.
“Rather than looking elsewhere, we’re investing in a quality workforce and providing opportunities that are already here,” Kurtenbach said. “As students complete the CTE program, they also gain dual credits. This allows them advanced access to secondary education at a lower cost, which also means faster entry into the workforce. In addition, three local businesses, Bar-Sto Precision Machine, Horizon Machine and Legend Air Suspensions, are providing on-the-job-training through internship programs.
“But it doesn’t stop there. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to lease space in the new incubator facility, giving them a chance to excel and move up within their current company, or start their own, ultimately creating new positions for machinists and welders,” Kurtenbach added.
Kurtenbach says the metal industry has created a synergy in the community over the years. Sturgis Industrial Park businesses help each other out by sharing best practice tips and offering a helping hand when needed. Continuous relationship building is part of what has kept the industry prosperous.
“Ultimately it is our goal to show our students that opportunities are plentiful here in Sturgis and Meade County. Hopefully that encourages them to stay and tap into entrepreneurial opportunities here in the Black Hills,” said Kurtenbach. “Not only will this grow our existing companies, it will open doors for other companies to come and do business in South Dakota. Since the CTE program will soon relocate to our South Dakota Certified Ready Site, it gives potential prospects even more incentive to follow suit and do business with us.”
Sturgis Economic Development