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Jacobetti Complex is rededicated

MARQUETTE — Local officials as well as Northern Michigan University staff and students celebrated the rededication of the Jacobetti Complex following the completion of a major two-year renovation.

The facility is home to NMU’s College of Technology and Occupational Sciences, along with the Department of Engineering Technology. Highlights of the renovated 2.3-acre Jacobetti Complex include the new Innovation Hall, state-of-the-art and industry-specific laboratories that feature cutting-edge training tools and technology, modernized classrooms, and areas for product and equipment testing and training.

The $28.6 million renovation was made possible through $20 million in capital outlay funding from the state of Michigan.

The renovation is going to have a profound impact on the region, CTOS Dean Steve VandenAvond said.

“We think this is a game changer for future students, for the future work force and for the regional economy,” VandenAvond said.

The facility is named after the late Dominic J. Jacobetti, the longest-serving member of the Michigan House of Representatives, who represented the 108th and 109th districts. In 1977, he helped bring $16.5 million to NMU to build a facility for career-technical-vocational programs, for which NMU named the building in his honor.

The facility was built in 1980 and first dedicated in 1981.

“He understood that many of the jobs that make up the Upper Peninsula and Michigan’s work force are the type that required technology and applied math and science learning, which is why he worked so hard many decades ago to bring the funding needed to Northern Michigan University to create such a learning facility,” VandenAvond said.

However, he pointed out that over the years, updates were needed, and the recent renovation made the facility a state-of-the-art building again.

State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township, said he was one of the Michigan legislators who were “passionate” about seeing the return of career technical education — about “dignifying work, about bringing back the idea that people who work with their hands are not just needed and necessary, but are dignified and worthy of praise and honor.”

McBroom said, “Now we continue the work he did to start this facility by this renovation, this project, and by seeing career technical education see a renaissance all around the state of Michigan, but led by none other than our own school of Northern Michigan University.”

State Rep. Jenn Hill, D-Marquette, said, “We know that the workers need training. We know that the technology is rapidly changing, and that our world is going to be different in the future, and NMU is going to help make sure that those folks, no matter how old they are, are going to be ready to take on those new challenges.”

Dan Burnett, a senior studying mechanical engineering, noted humorously that building construction had followed him throughout his later educational years, including NMU.

However, he said, “It was very exciting to walk through the building this fall to brand-new classrooms, new labs, new lab equipment and new furniture throughout, and know that I would be one of the first graduates that was fortunate enough to experience it all.”

NMU President Brock Tessman said the Jacobetti Complex “just feels right.”

He acknowledged that the Jacobetti location, which is situated away from much of the other campus buildings, might be of concern to NMU newcomers.

“I think it’s actually a perfect setting,” Tessman said. “It is absolutely part of our campus. I think it is not far out, and gives just a little separation, and I think that it’s actually a point of pride and works for this place.”

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