PUD Microsoft photo

Big Bend Community College

MOSES LAKE - The Workforce Education Center at Big Bend Community College just received a large donation thanks in part to Microsoft.

According to BBCC, Grant PUD will make a $470,000 contribution to the Columbia Basin Foundation, with Microsoft asking that $400,000 goes towards strengthening BBCC's new Workforce Education Center which is currently under construction.

"The new, state-of-the-art facility will be home to the college’s Workforce Education programs," BBCC stated in a press release.

"Microsoft's generous support of Big Bend Community College's Workforce Education Center underscores the value of the college's programs to meet employers' workforce needs,” said BBCC President Dr. Terry Leas. “We are grateful for Microsoft's investment in its future, our college, and the students we will serve over the next five decades."

North Central Washington is one of six regions chosen for Microsoft's TechSpark initiative. TechSpark aims to Foster economic opportunity and investment in the community through partnerships and investments, such as the donation made Tuesday. The program also expands access to computer science education, digital skills, and career pathways.

"Today’s announcement builds on Microsoft’s deep commitment and history of investment in Washington state, home to its Redmond headquarters campus, along with its Quincy data center in Grant County," the press release stated.

“The partnership between Microsoft and Big Bend has been wonderful,” said BBCC Foundation Executive Director LeAnne Parton. “From providing servers for our Data Center program, scholarships for our students, and now an investment in our Workforce Education Center.  We are blessed to have Microsoft come alongside us as we train the next generation of our workforce.”

The WEC began construction in June of 2018 and is expected to open its doors to students in fall of 2019. The 127,000 square foot facility will house 27 classrooms and more than 30,000 square feet of two-story lab space. And, keeping with the theme of energy efficiency, the new building has also been certified a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Building by the Green Building Council.

The Workforce Education Center, which is currently under construction, will be home to Big Bend Community College's technical education programs, which include automotive, welding, fabrication, maintenance mechanics, computer science and STEM.

Microsoft chose to donate its $480,000 power conservation rebate, which was the result of significant energy-efficient upgrades to equipment at its data center operations in Quincy.

The technology company chose to contribute the rebate to fund the donation through Grant PUD's "Pay it Forward" program, which benefits residents in the county.

The "Pay it Forward" program was initiated from Initiative 937 which requires utilities to attempt to spark energy conservation efforts amongst their customers.

“Sustainability is a core value for Microsoft, and that drives efforts to make our operations more energy efficient and environmentally friendly," said Mike Egan, senior director of Microsoft’s TechSpark program. “Our focus on sustainability can also be found in our work to help make communities more sustainable, and this contribution to Grant PUD’s Pay-it-Forward Partnership supports that goal. As part of our TechSpark initiative, Microsoft is working to foster new economic opportunities in North Central Washington. We see Big Bend Community College’s new Workforce Education Center as an investment in the future of the region where people can get the education and skills that are in high demand by employers.”

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