Gavin Newsom’s 51st birthday is one he hopefully won’t soon forget.

Thanks to the advocacy of Assemblymember Adam Gray, the California Lt. Governor and democratic gubernatorial candidate spent Wednesday afternoon meeting with Merced College and Merced County leaders and touring the campus’ current Agriculture and Industrial Technology facilities that were built in 1968 and 1976. As the Merced County economy continues to grow, a yearly estimated 1.5 percent total wage and salary employment increase forecasted from 2017-2022, Merced College is preparing the future workforce and meeting industry standards for agriculture and industrial technology.

Making good on bond measures passed in the early 2000’s, Merced College is preparing to build the last facility left on the measure. With the passage of Proposition 51 by California voters in 2016, the College is seeking to get the matching funds in next year’s budget cycle to build the approximately $21-million facility.

“We recognize agriculture as a vital part of our economy and we want our educational facilities to match the quality of our programs,” Merced College Superintendent/President Chris Vitelli said. “This state-of-the-art agriculture and industrial technology facility will be one of a kind and will give our students a leg up as they enter high-wage, high-demand careers in this industry.”

Spearheaded by the Associated Students of Merced College, the Agriculture Ambassadors and students in political science classes, Newsom was welcomed to the College by a large group of cheering students and colorful signs.

The College Leadership, Board of Trustees, Merced County and state officials met for a quick presentation on the new Ag/IT Building project and then went on a tour of the current dated facilities.  

The tour consisted of stops in the HVAC, automotive technician and welding labs and ended with a student-led rendition of Happy Birthday, followed by blue and gold cupcakes for Newsom.

“We were honored to have Lt. Governor Newsom and Assemblymember Gray recognize the importance of this project to our community,” Vitelli said. “This was a great day for Merced College.”