EAST ALDINE – The East Aldine District board learned at their meeting last Tuesday night of major steps that had been taken, just that day, to further the plans for a 61 acre Town Center on Aldine Mail Route.

It was announced at the meeting that the Lone Star College System had voted to proceed with a new campus on the Town Center site, with tentative plans calling for a 65,000 square foot building to be an “advanced technology center” training students in trades such as welding, air conditioning, auto technology, machinists, and engineering technicians.

Additionally, word was received that the Aldine ISD board had also voted to approve an Early Colllege program to be part of the new campus. This would entail classrooms and shops for AISD totalling another 20,000 square feet.

Based on these commitments, the EAMD board voted to authorize their attorney Tim Austin to proceed with an agreement with LSC System for the new campus, and to convey land for the construction of the proposed building.

Also interested in building on this site are the district, the Harris County Sheriff’s office, and a new participant, Neighborhood Centers, Incorporated. Earlier in the day Tuesday, a workshop of the interested parties from the District, the Lone Star College, Neighborhood Centers, and the architects and planners had met to discuss their plans and involvement.

Lone Star College – North Harris president Dr. Stephen Head had outlined the need for workforce training in the Aldine area, and the college’s commitment to building on the site. At that time representatives from Neighborhood Centers, Inc., Ray Chung and Matt Starr, indicated their organization would like to build a new facility of at least 50,000 square feet, with classrooms, offices, community rooms and shops, and a unique workforce training and “incubator” area known as a Makers Room, for new business entrepreneurs. This community center would follow prototypes NCI has run in other areas of Houston, but also offer unique enrichment and skill development training for Aldine.

Neighborhood Centers, Inc. is a Houston based community social activist group, with a number of programs run in each of their centers.

They describe themselves as “a nationally recognized community-development agency that exists to keep our region a place of opportunity for all those willing to work for a better life.”

NCI runs a number of social and workforce programs, for the state and federal governments, and for local agencies, too. They have an annual budget of over $260 million dollars, which includes grants and contracts for Community Centers, tax centers, educational programs such as Head Start, charter schools, senior services, and they are a major provider of workforce services for the state of Texas.

NCI currently runs seven community centers in various parts of Houston, and they plan to bring many of these services to the East Aldine Town Center campus. In addition, they propose a new large “makers space” for innovative and flexible job training and business start-up opportunities.

Based on these new initiatives, the East Aldine District expects the Town Center to be on a fast track for development. Dr. Head has indicated that Lone Star College could have completed their building, and start classes by the Spring of 2016.