The competition for becoming the home of Wyoming Technical Institute's Oregon campus has been narrowed down to two locations: Klamath Falls and Prineville.
>The Wyoming-based technical training center would offer classes in three main automotive industries to 100 to 150 students the first year ... growing to 1,000 to 1,200 in ten years
For the past 35 years, WyoTech has offered technical education in automotive, diesel and collision/refinishing processes. Located in Laramie, Wyoming, the school opens a new facility in Pennsylvania next spring and is looking at Oregon for their third site. Future plans are for a fourth site to be located in S. Carolina or possibly Florida.
Apparently a number of Oregon locations were originally suggested but only two communities, Klamath Falls and Prineville, made the short list. Prineville City Planning Director Dick Brown said he believes Prineville has "a good shot" at being chosen.
WyoTech executives were in town last week, talking to various community leaders. "I think having Les Schwab here is a plus," Brown said. "The WyoTech people spent time with Schwab executives, touring their training center."
Having WyoTech Training center in Crook County would mean a lot more than the 150 employees that would be involved, County Judge Scott Cooper pointed out. "There would be a lot of people coming in for the short term, which would be a boost for the hospitality service sector. From the recent survey published in the newspaper, it was clear that people want a movie theater but don't want any change in the community. You can't have additional services without an increase in the population. This school would have a minimal impact on the residential segment."
The impact having the school locate here would be huge, however. One of the aspects of the training offered by WyoTech is community involvement. County Planning Director Bill Zelenka spent some time with the visiting executives and he said they made it clear, "they push their students to be involved in the community; it is a community driven kind of situation."
The basic plan of development is for someone to build the facility, including student housing, on about 40 acres of land and then lease it back to the school. As Cooper pointed out, they are in the school business, not the real estate business.
While in town, WyoTech executives were shown potential sites in the Baldwin Industrial Park and another near the Oregon Youth Correction Center. The timeline set out by the WyoTech executives is to have a decision made by early next year, and be accepting students for the summer, 2003, quarter. It is expected that the school will accept 100 to 150 students the first year. Zelenka said their 10-year projection is to have 1,000 to 1,200 students.
Cooper, Zelenka and Brown all admitted that Klamath Falls has a few things in its favor. Among those benefits are a new geo-thermal co-generation plant, a very aggressive economic development program, and that community is already a designated enterprise zone.
The application has been made to the Oregon Economic Community development Department for Crook County to get that designation. At the present time, there are four openings in the state. The benefits to a company locating in an enterprise zone involves short- and long-term tax exemptions.
Brown said he doesn't know how many applications have been made. "It will be tough, though, to get WyoTech to come here if we don't get one of them," he said.
An announcement is expected later in the year about who is selected.