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‘Very special’: Education, job training hub coming to Historic Westside

Updated May 28, 2024 - 6:39 pm

A higher education and job training facility is coming to Las Vegas’ Historic Westside.

For now, the site of the College of Southern Nevada’s future Historic Westside Education and Training Center is a vacant lot adjacent to the Historic Westside School.

But officials on Tuesday morning dug into a pile of dirt to signify a major hurdle cleared: an official groundbreaking ceremony.

“We needed higher education in our community,” said Las Vegas Councilman Cedric Crear, who represents the neighborhood. “We needed to say ‘CSN’ on the side of the building.”

That building will be a 15,000-square-foot hub for credentialed job training in manufacturing, health care, technology and construction trades, officials said.

“The training programs are focused on key high-demand, high-wage industries that will provide participants with pathways directly into career fields, and align with college degree programs,” according to the city.

The center, which is being constructed by Builders United, has a price tag of $16.4 million, the city said. Part of that funding came from a multimillion-dollar grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, officials noted.

‘Building up communities’

“Today is about building up communities, not tearing them down,” said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., at the ceremony, which was attended by about 100 people. He pointed out how the attention to development in the Las Vegas Valley has historically been focused on the Strip.

“For too long, the projects got built on the other side of the freeway and not on this side,” Horsford said about the long-neglected, impoverished and predominantly Black Historic Westside. “For too long there were projects that were proposed and they always made their way to other places.”

CSN’s satellite campus forms part of the city’s 100th Plan, spearheaded by Crear for the neighborhood.

The councilman, who is running for mayor, noted other investments, such as the upcoming mammoth library being built in the area, housing units and funding from the city and Clark County towards the new and expanded Mario’s Westside Market.

Crear said the center’s location is vital for neighborhood residents, noting that longer commutes to higher education campuses are an impediment for some.

“This center exemplifies how higher education can adapt to meeting the needs to our community,” said Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Patty Charlton. “This is a great start.”

CSN President Federico Zaragoza spearheaded the project, which is similar to one he implemented in San Antonio as a college administrator.

Crear said city officials visited the Texas city to look at the fruits of Zaragoza’s initiative.

Zaragoza said higher education institutions typically “run away” from underprivileged neighborhoods.

“This is an important journey in all higher education,” he said. “We need to be in locations like this.”

Zaragoza will soon retire from CSN.

“This to me is very special for so many ways, but more importantly because it is the one project that I was hoping I could get past the gate before I left,” he concluded.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com.

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