When Tooele City leaders built a small municipal airport on the southwest side of town in the 1940s, little did they know their runway would give flight to something more than aircraft 60 years later.
In the middle of a runway that once served aviators now stands a building that serves Tooele County citizens with another venue of higher learning. It is Utah State University’s new $11 million USU-Tooele Science and Technology building, which luminaries and dignitaries formally opened on Jan. 12 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
A part of USU-Tooele Regional Campus, it is the fourth edifice to be built on Tooele Boulevard — also known as Tooele’s education corridor — that is wholly dedicated to higher learning. It joins Tooele Applied Technology College, which opened in 2013; the Tooele County School District’s Community Learning Center, which opened in 2009; and USU-Tooele Regional Campus, which erected its first building there 20 years ago and underwent an expansion in 2009.
Like its counterparts, the new USU-Tooele Science and Technology building’s purpose is to provide citizens a place of higher learning conveniently close to home. At nearly 29,000 square feet, the new school will further allow USU-Tooele students to complete certifications and degrees that require science courses. Its classrooms, labs and instructors will teach such college-level subjects as biology, chemistry, physiology and zoology — right here in Tooele County.
At last week’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, outgoing dean and executive director Donna Dillingham-Evans said the building would “put us on the cutting edge of instruction, not only in Utah, but across the country.”
All classrooms and labs have the capability to receive and send instruction through real-time interactive video conferencing, she said. Lab courses taught at the new school can be broadcast to other USU regional campuses across the state.
Tooele City Councilman Scott Wardle, who is chairman of the USU-Tooele Advisory Committee, said, “This building allows for a sustainable future for Tooele families for years to come. Students can stay here and get an education and go to work without leaving the county.”
Such has been the purpose of USU-Tooele Regional Campus, along with TATC and CLC, when all three opened their doors. Since then, thousands of local residents have used the schools’ educational services with many who’ve continued to greater academic and employment success.
All of which serves to enhance Tooele County’s — and the state’s — short- and long-term economic future. Both local and state leaders have long touted that the best investment to further the economy and quality of life is to build education. In a growing global marketplace, an educated labor force is essential to effectively compete.
Thanks to the four buildings that preside on Tooele Boulevard, Tooele County’s capacity to become more of a player in the global marketplace has significantly increased. It also makes our area’s workforce highly appealing to companies looking to expand or relocate to Utah. Local quality of life gets a boost, too.
Tooele City officials are thanked again for creating the education corridor many years ago. That action was visionary and has produced extraordinary results. Likewise, USU, TATC and the school district (CLC) are thanked for investing more than $50 million constructing venues of higher learning in Tooele County. In turn, thousands of citizens’ lives have truly taken flight.