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Gov. Quinn announces $36M for CLC’s lakeshore expansion

Flanked by members College Lake County Board Trustees Gov. PQuinn stands Thursday Sept. 19 northwest corner Sheridan Road MadisStreet where

Flanked by members of the College of Lake County Board of Trustees, Gov. Pat Quinn stands Thursday, Sept. 19, on the northwest corner of Sheridan Road and Madison Street, where CLC will build a $47.9 million, 110,000-square-foot building. | Dan Moran/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 19, 2013 3:35AM

Recalling his own nights as a community college instructor, Gov. Pat Quinn stood Thursday on the site of the former Lake County News-Sun building in Waukegan to announce the long-awaited release of $35.9 million in state funds for an expansion of the College of Lake County’s lakeshore campus.

“Community colleges are so important,” said Quinn, a former part-time instructor at Triton and Prairie State. “We want to make sure that all of our men and women in Illinois, when they come out of high school, whether they wait a little while or it’s right away, get an opportunity to get a good education.”

Quinn told an overflow crowd on Madison Avenue that “community colleges are part of education for everyone — everyone is in, no one is left out. Education is not just for the elite. That’s what community colleges understand.”

The release of the Illinois Jobs Now! funding came five years after CLC officials first announced plans to pursue state dollars for a lakeshore expansion, and four years after the state pledged to cover $35.9 million of the $47.9 million project. CLC, which will finance the remainder through a bond issue, had been waiting for release of the money since 2009.

According to the Thursday announcement, construction is expected to start in 2015 and run through 2017, with the 110,000-square-foot building slated to open in 2018. Also included in the package is a renovation of 8,000-square-feet inside the college’s existing space on Genesee Street.

While specific designs for the additions are scheduled to be drawn up in 2014, general concepts call for a focus on health-care careers in the new building, with construction of science laboratories and nursing demonstration spaces along with general-purpose classrooms.

Officials say the new structure, on the northwest corner of Sheridan Road and Madison, will include expanded student-support services, with a goal of creating a full-service campus.

CLC Board Chair Amanda Howland said the new and expanded facilities will have “a life-changing effect on Waukegan” and students in lakeshore communities.

“We are putting in a building that will be accessible to students from Zion, Waukegan, North Chicago — all of northern Lake County,” Howland said. “We’re going to have a one-stop shop here where everything will be available, so they won’t have to travel from campus to campus to campus.”

Waukegan Mayor Wayne Motley said he looks at the college’s redevelopment of the old News-Sun property as a potential boon to the city’s own efforts to revitalize the downtown area.

“I think development breeds development,” Motley said prior to Quinn’s arrival from Waukegan Regional Airport. “What we need to do is get more people interested in this community to bring it back to where it should have been years ago.

“Obviously this is going to create jobs for a substantial amount of time (and) it’s going to add a new face to downtown,” added Motley, saying he hopes the new CLC building will lead to development of two city-owned surface parking lots directly north on Sheridan.

The News-Sun property has been vacant since the six-story building was razed in 2011, a project that cost the city $799,000. Copley Press sold the asbestos-ridden building to the city for $1 in 1998, and $500,000 in state funds was used to remove the asbestos two years later.

CLC’s lakeshore campus is part of an overall $148 million campus plan that includes a new 42,000-square-foot science building at CLC’s Grayslake location, costing $24.9 million. Improvements at the Grayslake campus also include a $26.8 million overhaul of heating and air-conditioning systems and construction of a $5.1 million, 12,000-square-foot student center.

Addressing a gathering that included CLC employees, students and board members along with several local and regional officials, Quinn said he believes all of the college’s expansion efforts will benefit the Lake County workforce.

“We have Abbott, we have Baxter, Astellas and Takeda,” Quinn said. “All of them are very close here in Lake County. We want to make sure we have a well-skilled workforce, and that means going to community college.”

Quinn added that CLC is also a resource for “our service members coming out of Great Lakes after they leave the Navy, and with anyone coming out of the military, we want to make sure our veterans have a fighting chance at a good job. That’s what it’s all about.”

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