Kehoe praises State Tech at Career Expo

By Neal A. Johnson, UD Editor
Posted 2/15/23

LINN   — Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe is no stranger to State Tech and told employers at last Wednesday’s Career Expo that he is excited to promote central Missouri’s once-hidden gem.

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Kehoe praises State Tech at Career Expo


LINN  — Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe is no stranger to State Tech and told employers at last Wednesday’s Career Expo that he is excited to promote central Missouri’s once-hidden gem.

“I have a very close connection with the school,” said Kehoe, a former State Tech Board of Regents member who is running for governor. “I started my manufacturing career about 400 yards to the north from where you’re standing right now, a company that now builds ambulances and emergency vehicles for communities all over the United States and North America. So, I’ve been familiar with this campus and watched it grow.”

As a business owner, Kehoe said he’d hired many State Tech graduates. “You guys are here because you know what I know, that this is one of the hidden gems of Missouri,” said Kehoe. “But with the growth that (President) Dr. (Shawn) Strong and the board and his team have done, it’s not so hidden anymore. There’s more and more men and women coming to school here to get trained to go into gainful employment. You are recognizing that that’s why there’s a waiting list to get to this very event. This is a fantastic opportunity for you as employers.”

He added that the Career Expo is what workforce development looks like and reflects Gov. Mike Parson’s investment and that of House and Senate leaders. “When facilities like this produce people who are ready to come to your company, that are trained and know what they’re doing, this is exactly what we need to be investing in,” he said.

Some students choose to attend a four-year institution but Kehoe noted many select a route that will give them trade skills and an opportunity to obtain gainful employment. “That’s who you’re going to meet today, and I can tell you the percentage of people that graduate from this school that actually get a job really should be 100,” he added.

Dr. Strong announced the college boasts a 99% job placement rate, and regarding the other 1%, said the college didn’t have good phone numbers for them.

“So it should be 100 percent,” said Kehoe. “I appreciate you taking your time to be here today. We have companies from all over the state, and many are here today. I’m proud to be able to see what’s going to happen here and who you’re gonna meet. The future these young men and women can offer Missouri companies makes me proud. I tell people all the time we measure Missourians by the size of their hearts, not by the person that you see physically. That’s what you’re going to see here today — young men and women who are excited to get into the workforce.

“Their parents back home, like me, and many of you, are excited for them to get a job,” Kehoe continued. “I hope you have a fruitful day. I believe you’ll meet some fantastic, talented folks that you’ll want to hire, and sort of get a grasp of the market stuff out there. You’re gonna have to step up your game, and I know you will, and this will be a great thing for you and the partner students that you end up retaining from this event today. We will continue to invest in workforce development. We as a state have to put our money where our mouth is and get you the folks you need to run your businesses and grow the state’s economy.”

In welcoming employers during the morning session, Dr. Strong said those gathered were the best evidence of State Tech’s tagline, “We are the Employers’ Choice.”

The college has been the top-ranked college in the country for the fourth straight year. “How do you get to be number one? Number one, you place students in great jobs; you all make that possible,” Dr. Strong said. “Thank you. And number two, you graduate students at a very high rate. State Tech has the highest graduation rate of all colleges and universities in Missouri and is in the top five in the country. I could go on for quite a while about our nearly dozen national rankings.”

However, Dr. Strong said he would rather talk about what happens when a college has an excellent reputation and value proposition. “What happens is that you grow the workforce, and State Tech is a workforce development engine,” he added. “We are the fastest-growing college in the state, experiencing our sixth year of record enrollment. Very few colleges have grown in the last decade; we have grown 75% over the last six years. We have no intention of stopping our growth. We are talking about what it will take to get from 2,000 to 3,000 students. We know you will need the workforce.”

To support additional students, State Tech is growing the campus. “Last year, we finished the first phase of the Utility Technology Center, and this year we are finishing up the second phase,” said Dr. Strong, noting the college has also completed the Turf and Grounds Center. “If you haven’t checked that out, it’s worth the trip,” he said. “We have a very cool, Top Golf-style driving range on the back of it. We have a 30,000-square-foot replacement for the clubhouse under construction. Last year, I mentioned it was getting ready to break ground; this year, I can say it is in the drywall stage.”

Dr. Strong said prospective students ask what there is to do in Linn. “That used to be a tough question to answer,” he said. “The new answer to the question will be we have a movie theater, e-sports area, bowling, event center, golf simulators, a driving range, a sports bar and restaurant, and a huge pool. You can also play all the golf you would like for free. This will help us recruit from the urban areas many of you came from today.”

Last year, Dr. Strong noted that in his proposed budget, Gov. Parson had $20 million that will have to be matched by State Tech for a $40 million project. This will allow 90,000 square feet of new construction and the same amount in renovated space. “This year, I can say he is proposing to eliminate that match,” said Dr. Strong. “We ranked first in the state for both a MOExcels grant as well as an Ag Innovation grant. The bottom line is that we have more than $60 million in design or construction going on right now. The support by this state government for education is unprecedented in my career.”

Dr. Strong thanked employers for making a commitment to the Career Expo. “Ultimately, we want you to hire lots of State Tech students,” he said. “You are at the premier two-year college in the country! Without you, what we do would not be possible. Thank you for what you do for our students and State Tech.”

He added that this event is the start of a partnership between the college and employers.

A partnership can look like many things, from sponsoring a banner or classroom, hosting a field trip or lunch and learn, or teaching a specialty class. “We are growing so fast that we need to partner with all of you,” said Dr. Strong. “This will help you grow and will help us grow.”

Vice President of External Relations Shannon Grus said this is one of her favorite days of the year, noting this year’s Career Expo was the biggest year, with 300 registered employers and 50 more on a waiting list.

“What is also incredible is the hard work that the faculty, staff, and students have put in to make this event what it is,” she added. “This being said, I need to especially acknowledge Scott Peters, the organizer of this event. He has put in countless hours, answered your emails and phone calls to get all of you here and ready for today.

“We also could not do this without each of you — our partners,” Grus continued. “Some of you are new partners;  welcome! Some of you are familiar partners; welcome back! We encourage you to consider today the starting point of your opportunity to build a better future for your organization by building your partnership with State Tech.”

Grus acknowledged that the workforce picture is challenging; however, she added that State Tech is ready to meet workforce needs both now and in the future. “We need your partnership to make this happen,” she said. “Thank you for being here and helping us prove once again that State Tech is the Employers Choice.”

Most registered employers were in attendance at last week’s event, and planning is underway for next year’s expo.