LMC, manufacturers celebrate opening of Hanson Technology Center

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Where will the next generation of manufacturers come from?

That is a question leaders of local manufacturing companies are asking each other every day, according to Matt Tyler, president of Vickers Engineering in New Troy.

“We are not concerned about finding customers, we are not concerned about the economy,” he said. “What we talk about every day in our facility is if Toyota gives us that next job… How are we going to fill those jobs? It is scary.”

Lake Michigan College hopes to ease those fears with the newly opened Hanson Technology Center, which houses LMC’s energy production, engineering, machine tool, mechatronics, skilled trades and welding production programs.

It features a fabrication laboratory and simulation classroom with what college officials describe as state-of-the-art CNC and robotics equipment.

Interim President Bob Harrison said the opening of the center is a wonderful day not just for LMC, but for southwest Michigan’s residents, businesses and employees.

“They, more than any single individual, benefit from this facility,” said LMC Interim President Bob Harrison.

The center is located on LMC’s Benton Harbor campus and replaces the former M-TEC facility on Klock Road.

LMC Board President Mary Jo Tomasini said she expects the facility will help create 260 new jobs over the next three years and have an economic impact in the region of more than $9 million.

“I know we will be the talk of the state once everyone realizes what is under this roof,” she said.

The creation of the Hanson Center did not take place over night.

Tomasini said it is a culmination of years of leaders in the education, business and manufacturing communities coming together to create a vision for the future.

“This facility is a product of that vision,” she said.

Tyler said he believes the Hanson Technology Center will make a difference in southwest Michigan, especially for people looking to find a rewarding and profitable place to work. Tyler said a lot of people on his company’s payroll make more than $70,000 a year.

“Manufacturing is a hell of a place to work and it is a hell of a career,” he said. “We aren’t just creating jobs, we are creating careers.”

Construction of the Hanson Technology Center was partially supported by private donations and is named in honor of Merlin and Carolyn Hanson, who received a standing ovation when they were introduced during Tuesday’s grand opening ceremony.