Skilled trades union to build $30 million training facility in Detroit

 In News Article

The state’s largest skilled trades union intends to consolidate its metro Detroit operations in a new $30 million facility on Detroit’s west side that would offer free training.

The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, alongside contractor partners, would finance building a 120,000-square-foot training center on the former Tappan School site, according to a news release.

The union made the announcement at a Monday afternoon media event nearby with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

The city owns the 7-acre parcel at near I-96 and the Davison. It’s on the east edge of I-96, bounded by Elmurst and American streets, just west of Livernois Avenue. The lot addresses include 7515 Elmhurst and 7601 Webb.

Pending Detroit City Council approval, the city would lease the property to the union’s joint trust fund that it operates with signatory employers — the Statewide Michigan Carpenters and Millwrights Joint Apprenticeship and Training Fund. An unspecified loan from Chemical Bank contributes to the $30 million facility construction cost. The trust fund has already approved the project.

Mike Jackson, union executive secretary treasurer, said the lease was expected to be around $1 per year and “that was really the only way we could financially make it work.”

Asked to confirm that figure, city spokesman John Roach said in a message that the terms hadn’t been codified or sent to City Council yet and would be later this month.

“I mentioned to the mayor that we were looking to build one in Southeast Michigan and he said, ‘You’re going to put one in Detroit,'” Jackson said. “(Duggan) is very hands on. They showed us lots and lots of property that were possibilities and this one was exactly what we were looking for.”

Construction work there would begin in early 2020 for a targeted mid-2021 completion, the release said. The union will start looking for an architect after receiving city approval.

The training facility would have capacity for 1,500 students per year, up from about 650 served now in the Warren and Ferndale schools, Jackson said. Renovating the two existing schools wouldn’t meet existing needs, he added. Those two locations would close, along with administrative operations in Livonia and the Renaissance Center in Detroit.

Students would study in classrooms, as well as with tools that simulate construction work and other equipment that the union said in the release will be “some of the most advanced in the construction industry.” The union designed and implements the free apprenticeship program.

“This incredible new facility … will be where every Detroiter who wants to help rebuild our city by becoming a carpenter or millwright will be trained,” Duggan said in the release. “I can’t thank our partners at the Carpenters and Millwrights enough for their continued commitment to providing training and career opportunities to Detroit residents.”

The Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, or MRCC, signed on two years ago to the Detroit Skilled Trades Employment Program, which set goals to increase the number of Detroiters involved in local unions.

The MRCC, which has 14,000 members, said it would triple its Detroiter base in 10 years. It has pledged 15 percent of first-year carpenter apprentices will be Detroit residents. Right now 26 percent of 525 apprentices meet that description, according to the release.

Around three years ago, the MRCC decided it needed to upgrade facilities, Jackson said. It opened a new training center in January in Wayland, closing two in Fennville and Mason. Another is being built near Marquette to replace one older school.

“The upgrade is probably the most important part of this,” Jackson said. “The industry has changed a lot since our other schools were put into action. So we needed more modern, state-of-the-art facilities to train with state-of-the-art technology. And there’s always economies of scale when it comes to mergers.”

The region’s skilled labor shortage and fears surrounding it have been widely reported. Property developers must compete for construction workers in a market that’s targeted for multiple billion-dollar projects.

Read the original article here.

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