Howard Community College has launched an $11 million capital campaign in support of a new campus-based workforce development and skilled trades center. The trades center will be the first of its kind in the county and will address a growing statewide shortage of skilled workers in trades and technical fields.

The 50,000-square-foot facility, which is slated for completion in 2026 as an intended completion date for the facility, which will offer practical training in automotive, manufacturing, mechatronics, green technology, cybersecurity, construction trades and more.

“One of my priorities as president is to establish the trades center as a direct anti-poverty and racial equity resource for Howard County,” said HCC President Daria Willis. “Neighbors and communities in the country have been long underserved by the absence of this critical wealth-building and career-development hub. Today was a bold step on behalf of their bright futures.”

“Maryland is an emerging national leader in workforce innovation,” said Minah Woo, HCC vice president of workforce, innovation and strategic partnerships. “The state and its corporations will need a workforce that is agile to changing technology and environmental laws. Howard Community College seeks to be the leading industry partner in helping corporations set expectations for hiring, retaining, and developing entry level to managerial talent in these areas.”

Local business leaders Zack Shariff, CEO of the Allen+Shariff Corp.; and Ben Nichols, president of Harkins Builders, were named as co-chairmen of the campaign council. They jointly pledged $50,000 to support the fundraiser and encouraged guests to serve as benefactors and advocates of the center.

More than 2,900 students enrolled at HCC during the last fiscal year received Pell Grant funding, with 24% of that group claiming child dependents. In addition to future child care services, HCC currently supports student parents with designated study space in the college library, food pantry access and a growing roster of classes with faculty members who welcome young children to be with parents during in-person classroom instruction.