INA – Rend Lake College must have been nice this year. The college could become the first community college in the history of Illinois to install a $1,000,000 facility dedicated to training a workforce for the coal mining industry.
State Representative Kurt Granberg (D-107th) announced Thursday night during the Rend Lake College Foundation Annual Dinner his intentions to secure $1 million in state funding for a new coal mining technology center for the college. While he could not make a formal announcement, he said he is “very optimistic” that funding can be secured for such an endeavor.
Granberg’s announcement is another step in a successful history of supporting RLC and Southern Illinois. Sadly, the Assistant Majority Leader’s 22-year tenure will come to a close after this term. Granberg recently announced that he will step down as representative of the 107th District to pursue other professional opportunities.
RLC Vice President of Finance and Administration Bob Carlock said he is proud to call Granberg his friend as he presented him with the RLC Foundation Community Service Award for a career of supporting RLC efforts and downstate interests.
“I know Rend Lake College is proud to call him our friend,” Carlock said.
The Community Service Award has not been handed out in more than five years. RLC President Mark Kern commented that the College “really tries to make our awards meaningful. ... You really have to have done something. [Granberg] is extremely deserving of it.”
Carlock mentioned Granberg’s instrumental involvement in capital development funding of more than $100,000 for an expansion to the RLC Culinary Arts Program, $1.5 million for the planned FutureGen Project, $500,000 for the Power Holdings Inc. syngas plant near Waltonville and $250 million for an economic development finance authority known as S.E.I.D.E.A., whose board of directors is controlled by citizens of Marion and Jefferson counties.
The Culinary Arts expansion will effectively double the size of Culinary Arts training facilities at RLC and is more than halfway complete.
These are only a few of the many legislative highlights in Granberg’s congressional career.
“It is a real pleasure to work with Mark and Pat [Kern], the Rend Lake College Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board of Directors,” Granberg said. “You have an excellent set of boards in place.”
He explained that an international group of companies are currently conducting coal investment feasibility studies in the U.S. Right now, their choice of where to operate is between Illinois and Texas. If the choice is Illinois, it could mean a great opportunity for Southern Illinois.
“If that happens, you are going to see international focus on Southern Illinois,” Granberg said.
He added that a coal mining technology center at RLC would be an important part in a successful boom of the Illinois coal industry.
“Infrastructure and a skilled workforce,” he said. “That is the equation.”
Representatives of Peabody Energy were also presented an award during the Foundation’s 26th Annual Dinner. President Mark Kern handed them an RLCF Gold Major Gift Award and they handed him a check for $100,000. The one-time gift will be used for capital improvements at the Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus. In addition, Peabody has offered training services and design support that will bolster RLC’s Coal Mining Technology Program on the RLC Main Campus in Ina and at the RLC satellite Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville campus.