Jefferson County, COCC Boosted by $4 Million in Lottery Revenue for Madras Campus Build-Out

Aug. 7, 2023

Central Oregon Community College (COCC) and Jefferson County are a major step closer to realizing a long-planned expansion project for the college’s Madras campus thanks to $4,052,728 from Oregon lottery revenue bonds allocated by the state’s 2023-25 Legislatively adopted budget. The planned new facility will feature health care and early learning education classrooms and labs, as well as an on-site child care center for Jefferson county families.

The college and county intend to break ground this winter for an approximately 24,000-square-foot building on land gifted by the Madras-based Bean Foundation. The addition will increase the footprint of COCC’s Madras campus, which first opened in 2011, and enable the college to offer four stand-alone, in-demand health and education programs — nursing, nursing assistant, medical assistant and early childhood education. The budget for the expansion also includes construction of a 100-seat child care facility managed by The Children’s Learning Center, an established local business.

“Jefferson County will benefit immensely from the child care spots and programing that COCC will be able to facilitate in rural health care and early childhood education,” said Kelly Simmelink, Jefferson County Commissioner. “This project checked every box for us, and ultimately the legislature, as our representative, Vikki Breese-Iverson, prioritized this funding opportunity. It also memorializes the vision that Al Bean had for our community as it improves the quality of life for children, young families and young adults.”

The in-demand educational trainings and much-needed child care resources are expected to address significant community gaps for the growing rural area. A 2022 study from Portland State University estimates a “relatively robust” growth rate for Jefferson County, where a two-year waitlist for child care is not uncommon and recruiting health care workers has been a challenge.

The Oregon Employment Department projects that the health services and education sectors — which combine to make the third-largest employment category in Madras — are expected to surge by 26% between 2021-31 across Central Oregon.

“Thanks to these state funds, we are closing in on our goal to train skilled nurses, medical assistants, certified nursing assistants and early childhood educators in Jefferson County,” said Dr. Laurie Chesley, COCC’s president. “Students from Warm Springs to Madras to Culver will soon have more options to pursue affordable higher education where they live, and to earn family wages in high-demand careers in their home communities.”

In all, across the four academic programs alone, as many as 88 individuals could potentially graduate each year from the Madras campus expansion.

“Leader Breese-Iverson and our other state legislators are strategically investing in rural communities like Jefferson County,” said Joe Krenowicz, chair of COCC’s board of directors and executive director of the Madras Chamber of Commerce. “In turn, our county commissioners have advocated for such investments to be used in partnership with COCC for our Madras campus expansion. These funds will have a transformative impact on generations of students and families in our region.”

For more information, contact Jeremy Green, COCC Madras campus director and branch campus capital projects manager, at 541-550-4101 or

Rendering of COCC Madras Campus expansion