HARVEY, Mich. (WJMN) – A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Thursday for the new Ironworkers Local 8 Training Center in Marquette County.

The $5.5 million facility will be a center to train upcoming apprentices. There will also be journeyman classes to upgrade their certifications. Ironworkers Local 8 is based out Wisconsin, with offices in Milwaukee and Neenah. This will be their first facility in the Upper Peninsula to allow Yoopers across the region to receive training right here in the U.P.

“This is the only training facility in upper Michigan for the ironworkers, so we’re just really excited,” said Charlie Falkner, business manager/treasurer for Ironworkers Local 8. “It’s been a long time in the making. A retiree was talking that it’s been 45 years in the making. The entire membership is really excited to have our own facility up here.”

This new training center means shorter commutes for apprentices, including Reghan Lakomowski. For the past four years, she has been traveling from Gwinn to Wisconsin for her apprenticeship.

“I’m really excited to not have to drive all the way to Wisconsin, which is pretty cool. And then it’s also going to be an AWS weld lab so we can get a better certification now, too,” said Lakomowski. “Being able to use my hands every day and seeing the results and knowing that it’s going to be there for a long time. Getting to drive by and say, ‘Hey I worked on that, I helped build that’. And also, not going to the same place every day, because that gets pretty old, pretty fast.”

The training center is expected to be finished by spring 2024. To learn more about Iron Workers Local 8 and the apprenticeship program they offer, you can visit iwl8.org.