As Apollo Career Center in Lima opens the doors to its newly renovated facility, high school and adult students are more poised than ever before to succeed in an increasingly competitive global market.
That’s due in part to a progressive $53 million renovation project that not only doubles the size of the facility but also houses state-of-the-art training equipment such as robotics, programming and 3D simulators in health science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.
The project, which consisted of seven phases and spanned two years while classes were still in session, has captured the attention of the community as well as business leaders across west central Ohio. More than a dozen of them felt so strongly they pledged their support and will generously fund scholarships for high school and adult learners for many years to come.
This year marks another significant milestone for Apollo as the Career Center also celebrates its 40th anniversary. Superintendent Judy Wells said Apollo has never strayed from its original purpose of changing lives and providing hope.
“Our vision statement is ‘Reflect, Transform, Lead.’ We reflect on the past 40 years and the original purpose, to transform ourselves to meet the needs of in-demand high-tech economic sectors of employment and continue to lead the way providing skilled workers in a competitive market,” Wells said.
Local businessman Gene Heitmeyer, general manager of Diamond Manufacturing, agrees.
“For decades, companies have relied on Apollo graduates to meet their hiring needs. Our economy is stronger because of community partners like Apollo, ensuring we have a strong and qualified workforce,” Heitmeyer said.
The need is not going away. According to Ohio Means Jobs, 140,000 positions are going unfilled in Ohio. The vast majority of those positions requires a skills certificate or higher. Much of the need is due to an aging workforce as approximately 10,000 people turn 65 years old each day and will continue to do so for the next 15 years.
Apollo recognizes the need and has responded aggressively, with programs that target those specific areas where the skills gap exists.
A dedicated welding lab, for instance, allows Adult Education to train 24/7 to meet the growing demands of area business and industry. Apollo’s public safety program offers training that can’t be found in some instances for 90 miles; working with 72 fire departments in 14 counties, the program is home to the area’s only burn room and extrication vehicle. The Truck Driving Academy partners with 31 trucking companies that hire its graduates to help curb a critical shortage in the industry. The Academy of Medical Careers is filled to capacity. And Apollo’s manufacturing programs train men and women both on campus and through customized training to keep pace with industry demands.
Apollo’s Adult Education has grown to more than 50,000 square feet of dedicated training space. This includes expanded areas for manufacturing, public safety, medical careers and construction programs. It offers 10 full-time certificate programs, over 60 part-time programs and a multitude of short-term and special interest programs serving upward of 4,000 adult students annually.
“Our communities are going to succeed by preparing our youth and adults with the workforce skills needed by our local employers,” said Jeff Sprague, president of the Allen Economic Development Group. “The partnerships Apollo has built over the past 40 years and this new facility positions our community for extraordinary opportunities…we are excited about the community-wide investment in Apollo and the future for all of us.”