Yakima County Development Association - Phoenix Rises - Heritage University's Renewal

Jonathan Smith

The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news. 

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Phoenix Rises - Heritage University's Renewal

Phoenix Rises - Heritage University's Renewal

April 24, 2015

University Thriving After Devastating Fire

I recently visited Heritage University's campus.  It was certainly not my first trip out to the Toppenish campus but I had not been to Heritage since a three alarm fire took out its original building and caused millions of dollars in damages.

A couple years later the campus is thriving again.  There are still a number of portable building at Heritage - a living reminder of what the University lived through as it built new facilities and rebounded from disaster.  On the positive side there are several shiny new buildings. Heritage built a new set of classrooms to replace those lost when the fire took out Petrie Hall.  It also added a dining commons/bookstore and a building for the university's information technology infrastructure.

alt textIt is exciting to see the campus continue to rebound.  Heritage has bold plans to double its student population over the next five to seven years.  University leaders hope to add over a thousand new students by emphasizing degrees in high demand fields.  Heritage is adding new health science programs and will be offering degree programs in nursing, physician's assistant, and clinical laboratory sciences.  The university also expects to see growth in its business and environmental science degree programs. 

Our office recently got involved with Heritage's renovations.  The university is rebuilding its water and wastewater facilities and we helped Heritage secure County Supporting Investments in Economic Diversification (SIED) funds to help pay for this infrastructure.  Putting $1 million into the wastewater facilities will help Heritage save some of its own funds to support future growth. 

New Vision congratulates President John Bassett and the team at Heritage for overcoming huge challenges and repositioning the University for success.  Raising educational attainment is one of the most important economic issues facing the Yakima Valley and it good to know our local education institutions are prepared to meet this challenge.  

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"This is a great place to raise a family." - Clara Jimenez, Toppenish City Council