In 2017, Washburn University, GO Topeka and the City/County Joint Economic Development Organization commissioned a market research study finding that 13,000 Shawnee County residents did not have a high school diploma or GED. The study confirmed the need for a job training center in East Topeka and confirmed with local employers high-growth employment areas.
The partners determined to refurbish an 11,000 sf building in East Topeka that had fallen into disrepair, using it to offer courses in health care, building technology which focuses on construction trades, commercial truck driving, a GED program and ESL classes for up to 400 students.
The facility is managed by Washburn Tech, Washburn University’s technical education arm. Washburn Tech reports that a special aspect of the project is its learning laboratory for the TRANE Corporation, the first and only one in the nation. The building is being designed as a teaching lab to provide information such as analytical data for the climate and energy control technologies program, color-coded and identifiable plumbing and uniquely-lit lights that change colors in the ceiling. This technology will allow instructors to use the building as a teaching resource, providing hands-on opportunities for better understanding of the field.
Columbia Capital served as NMTC advisor to GO Topeka, the City and County’s economic development corporation, which served as sponsor and leverage lender. Columbia Capital secured $6.5 million in allocation from Raza Development Fund. PNC New Markets Investment Partners served as investor. JEDO contributed provided $4.5 million in leverage from dedicated economic sales tax dollars. Shawnee County managed the construction on behalf of JEDO, permitting the project to avoid sales taxes on construction goods and materials. The NMTC capital stack also provided partnership funds up to $500,000 per year for three years for start-up and operational expenses. Washburn University and Washburn Tech provide staff, instructional programs and the opportunity for certifications.
Columbia Capital Management, LLC is a registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) as a municipal advisor. The firm is also registered with the SEC as a registered investment adviser. Columbia Capital has a statutory duty to serve its governmental clients as a fiduciary.