MANDAN, N.D. • The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives has a new Lineworker Training Center and a renovated headquarters building.
Both are a bright spot for the NDAREC, according to Josh Kramer, general manager and executive vice president.
The $4 million, 26,337 square-foot training center will be a boon to Bismarck State College’s lineworker program and the electric cooperative workforce, he said, while the renovated headquarters is a much-needed upgrade for the original structure that was built in the 1960s.
The NDAREC celebrated the opening of the new buildings at a ceremony on Oct. 14 at the campus, 3201 Nygren Drive N.W., Mandan.
Kramer, in a statement before the grand opening, said the training center is a “testament of the electric cooperative commitment to our current and future workforce, to meeting the needs of our industry and, above all, powering the lives of our members and the communities we serve.”
The facility boasts an 18,000-square-foot indoor training arena and 50-foot walls with 44-foot ceiling clearance, providing opportunities for lineworkers and students to practice skills required for the construction and maintenance of overhead and underground electrical infrastructure. Two classrooms for instruction and a simulator room for commercial driver’s license training also are included in the facility.
A highlight of the building is the Cooperative Center, which offers flexible education, training and meeting spaces with improved technology, according to information provided by the NDAREC. With floor-to-ceiling artwork, video monitors and displays, the Cooperative Center tells the story of North Dakota’s electric cooperatives and shares the cooperative principles and values that guide their work. Two electric vehicle charging stations have also been installed for future use.
About 70% of the $4 million training center is funded by a grant from the Economic Development Administration, Kramer told Prairie Business, but private donations from NDAREC’s member cooperatives also have contributed to the project. The latter also funded the renovated headquarters building.
Kramer said there are many things he is excited about with the completed project, but mostly the opportunity it provides for industry.
“I think the thing I am most excited about is the opportunity this is going to provide to train the current and future workforce,” he said. “It’s really important, as leaders of utility businesses, that we invest in the workforce and support the one and only lineworker training program in the state of North Dakota. Our members made that a priority and pursued this project. I think that’s going to be a great benefit to the state and the region.”