Metropolitan Community College celebrated the opening of its new site at Hillyard Technical Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning.

MCC has been in talks with the St. Joseph School District and city officials to bring expanded training opportunities to St. Joseph through adult-education programs. Earlier this year, those talks led to a final deal being struck, allowing various programs, including classes for potential certified nursing assistants, production technicians, welding technology and machining experts, to fall under MCC’s umbrella at Hillyard.

The ribbon-cutting event attracted quite a crowd. Mayor Bill McMurray, representatives from the St. Joseph School District and the Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Brenda Shields, St. Joseph, and many others were in attendance.

MCC Chancellor Dr. Kimberly Beatty began the ceremony by thanking all of thoe individuals and organizations who helped make the dream of bringing MCC to St. Joseph a reality.

“I’m just honored that the community has been so welcoming to us,” Beatty said. “Sometimes you look at financial models and what it takes to make things happen, and you think, ‘Well, is this the right thing to do?’ Seeing the people here today confirms that it’s absolutely the right thing to do.”

McMurray designated the day as “Metropolitan Community College Day,” before St. Joseph School District Superintendent Dr. Doug Van Zyl approached the podium.

He said plans to bring MCC to St. Joseph were well into development prior to him arriving in the city and he was happy to see such a crowd come to show their support.

“This is something that not only helps our school district but our community as well, so I hope people are excited for the opportunity,” Van Zyl said. “It really just shows that it took a lot of partnerships in order to get this accomplished, and so that’s what we need to continue to move it forward: All of those partners that were involved in getting it here being willing to step up during time of need or when opportunities present themselves to continue to grow and develop this program and these partnerships.”

Some individuals expressed their gratitude to the community college as well. Shields gave a big hug to MCC’s mascot upon entering Hillyard, as her husband had graduated from the community college in the past.

“It creates that additional opportunity for students who are graduating from high school who may not be interested in going to a four-year university,” she said of the benefits of having MCC in St. Joseph. “If they can get some of the trades and skills that they need to get employed, they’re quickly out of high school with a good-paying job, which is what St. Joseph needs.”

For Tyjaun Lee, the campus president at MCC Maple Woods | St. Joseph and Penn Valley, the event was nothing short of a success.

“It was amazing. I believe in serving the community, and that’s a part of MCC’s mission,” she said. “To be here in St. Joseph and to serve the third-largest manufacturing industry and municipality here in the St. Joseph area, we are very excited to serve the students and business and industry leaders here.”

Classes for the spring semester will begin in January, and those who are interested can visit Hillyard or MCC online to learn more.

And while Beatty said they still are looking for people to serve as adjunct instructors and hoping to further establish industry partners as well as equipment needs going forward, she has hope for the future.

“It’s going to be a marathon, not a sprint,” Beatty said.

Daniel Cobb can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowCobb.