COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The building is still empty, but hundreds wanted to see where the new National Woods Manufacturing Training Center would be located next year.

An open house hosted by Peyton and Widefield school districts featured presentations by the schools and industry, and drew hundreds of students, local officials, teachers and local woodworking companies.

It is the education and industry partnership that has created this new training effort.

Scott Campbell, superintendent of Widefield School District, said that the school will providing unique high quality skills.

Tim Kistler, superintendent of Peyton School District, said that the two school boards have formed a partnership, and have 40 manufacturers that are taking part.

“We’re trying to create new partnerships,” he said.

Dean Mattson, Peyton’s director of woods manufacturing, reviewed the events leading up to this open house event, and issued a call to action on what is needed to keep the program moving ahead. (More on this in the future.)

John Suthers, mayor of Colorado Springs, said that manufacturing is an important part of the economy, locally and nationally. He addressed workforce development, and pointed out that there were 12,000 people seeking work in El Paso County, and a similar number of openings, but the people didn’t have the skills to do the jobs.

“This is exactly what needs to happen in America at this time,” he said.

Kayleen McCabe of the DIY Network encouraged students to look for opportunities that match their interests.

“This is what we need to have happen,” she said.

Steve Waltman, senior vice president of Stiles Machinery, discussed his visits to North Salem and to the Peyton School, and Stiles involvement in the educational programs. Stiles helped organize this event, and has designated equipment to be provided to the new school.

“I want to challenge all the employers out there, this is the future,” he said.

For now, there is no equipment in the building, a former computer chip company near the Colorado Springs airport. Another open house is planned for February 8, 2017, and classes are expected to open August 17, 2017. More details to come, including how your company can take part.