Illinois Central College will be offering some new classes at its ICC Pekin location on Hanna Drive in Pekin now that it has an agreement for two years rent free.

ICC Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance Bruce Budde said the college had a market study done that “indicates that if we change the format, some of the offerings we make there, extend those offerings, we believe it can be a very viable site and mutually beneficial to the college and the Pekin community. So what we’re really focused on is expanding the types of offerings — expanding the evening offerings.”

Budde said ICC has good relationships with Pekin Community High School and high schools in the southern part of Tazewell County, so the college plans to expand its Early College programs.

The original agreement with ICC provides that any rent paid by the college go toward the purchase or value of the property. Budde said when the college moved to the building in 2008 it was “pretty much a Morton Building for industrial purposes.” The college put $1.8 million into upgrading the facility for welding labs and classrooms. Over the past few years the college has made improvements to add a CNA program that UnityPoint Health-Pekin wanted.

“One of the best economic drivers is educating your residents,” said Budde. “We did an analysis of our district and there are opportunities in the Pekin community for us to extend educational opportunities.”

For example, the college is adding an accounting technician program, “a bookkeeper type program, and that’s going to allow folks to get a  certificate here in town that translates into a job,” said Budde.  The college will also offer more general education courses at ICC Pekin to make it easier for students to transition to the main college campus in East Peoria or the campus in Peoria to complete their programs.

City Manager Tony Carson said ICC has renovated the facility at a cost of approximately $2 million and paid over $600,000 in rent since ICC Pekin opened in August 2008 in Riverway Business Park. Over the last 18 months the college was not required to pay any rent on the facility.

The Council approved the contract Monday that allows the college to remain in the city owned building on Hanna Drive.

“I know there are people who have said we are losing money, but I don’t look at it that way,” said Carson.  “We’re not losing anything by them staying when it’s actually a benefit to the community if we have their presence.

“They’re paying all of the utilities. They’re paying the upkeep of the building. If they are no longer there, those are all things the city would be responsible for.”

Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin