Muskegon Community College has just days to finish transforming the former Muskegon Chronicle building into three floors of classrooms and manufacturing labs.

It's taken more than one year to renovate the building. The college's Downtown Center opens to students on Aug. 28. The building is on Clay Avenue adjacent to Hackley Park.

"It has been a challenge," said Tom Martin, Muskegon Community College Department Chair of Applied Technologies;. "But everything is coming together."

The Downtown Center will provide much needed space for students interested in skill trades like welding and engineering. Martin says workers with those skills are in high demand.

The renovated space includes new welding stations and even a modern foundry lab with a sand conveyer system.

The Chronicle building sat empty for several years before the college purchased it.

"The whole move downtown give our department a new image and it also gives us a new identity to better serve business and industry," Martin said.

Local tax dollars and a $2.5 million federal grant covered much of the renovation costs. The state contributed $3.7 million for the newest manufacturing equipment.

Students will also benefit from a new partnership with the engineering programs at Western Michigan University and Ferris State University.

"A student can come here for two, and in some cases three years, and just have to attend Ferris or Western for one year," Martin said.

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