SAULT STE. MARIE — On Saturday, Oct. 1, the Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville is beginning construction on a new expansion.
The school is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 1 to mark the beginning of a project that is expected to take around two years to complete. The multi-million dollar expansion is the result of a fundraising and donation campaign and is designed to increase class sizes and expand program choices at the school.
Since 2005, the Great Lakes Boat Building School has been teaching people the skills needed for various jobs in and around the Great Lakes. Students take courses on marine technician programs and learn about marine technology building and maintenance.
Because of the size of the school, the program graduates a relatively small class of 24 students every year. According to school officials, 100 percent of students who have graduated from this program go on to work in jobs in their field after graduation.
Because demand for trained professionals in the marine field is so high, and many students have career jobs ready before graduation, the school saw a need to fund this expansion. It will allow them to more than double the size of the graduating class to 50 students a year, with the possibility of future expansion to 100 students a year.
The school is expected to maintain its 100 percent graduation rate and job placement rate with the expansion.
The expansion also includes the construction of a new class building, boathouse, dock and boardwalk behind the current facilities. The new 10,000 square foot building will provide extra classroom space.
The new boathouse and dock area will house two boats and will be used to give students hands-on experience with boats in the water.
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In addition to expanding class sizes and construction of new buildings, the school is also adding a new marine electronics program. The program will teach students how to operate and maintain the marine technology that helps ships to manually sail, dock and use GPS.
The school is making this expansion with help from a $2.7 million grant from the Economic Development Administration's CARES act. The grant will cover most of the expansion costs, but in order to qualify for it, the school had to raise at least $1.1 million to match it.
On Dec. 1, 2021, the school launched the "Come Aboard, Launch Careers" campaign to raise the needed $1.1 million. The fundraising from this campaign will go directly towards the dock and boardwalk area.
The new expansion is expected to open by spring semester of 2025.
For more information about the boat building school and its programs, visit their website.
— Contact Brendan Wiesner: BWiesner@Sooeveningnews.com
This article originally appeared on The Sault News: Great Lakes Boat Building School to break ground on new expansion