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M State opens satellite office in Park Rapids

"We're excited about the possibilities," M State provost Cris Valdez said Monday in making the announcement. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Post-secondary education options in Park Rapids have become a reality.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College, working in collaboration with the Hubbard County Rural Economic Development Commission, announced the official opening of M State's Park Rapids office in the Frank White Education Center Monday.

"Our intent is to deliver what the residents want," M State provost Cris Valdez said. "We are excited about the possibilities."

A two-year associate of arts degree will be offered, with options expected to grow, said David Collins, executive director of the HCREDC.

Counselors will be available one day a week - Thursdays - in the Frank White office to discuss online opportunities for classes.

Plans, at this stage, call for one course to be offered in Park Rapids as well as a technical leadership class. M State courses will be available online. The college, which offers courses on four campuses, indicated a willingness to expand classes to meet needs.

Helene Hedlund, dean of M State, said the office will provide services to dislocated workers, adult learners, high school students and area residents.

"This is expanded opportunity," she said Monday, "for a community on the move."

"This is great news for the community," Northwoods Bank CEO Mark Hewitt said. "It's an opportunity we should have had years and years ago."

School board member and former high school principal Gary Gauldin recalled arriving in Park Rapids as an industrial arts teacher a quarter century ago, the principal at that time sharing a vision for a college in Park Rapids.

"This is a win-win situation," Gauldin said.

Hewitt said the addition will be a boon to maintaining a strong, local workforce.

"I'm excited about the new partnership for the school and the community," Park Rapids Area High School principal Jeff Johnson said. "This won't replace what's offered in the high school," he explained. "It won't overlap. It's an enhancement."

"It's a wonderful asset for economic development and furthering education," Park Rapids mayor Nancy Carroll agreed.

M State is planning a community luncheon Friday, July 30 in Park Rapids.

The phone number for the M State office is 255-4881.