IKORCC Opens New Campus

IKORCC Opens New Campus

The Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) are leading the charge against unique construction challenges with a pair of brand-new facilities in Merrillville that the organization recently opened. There, journeymen carpenters and professionals from other trades are learning how to combat the threat of construction-related infections in medical facilities in addition to lots of other industry topics.

Located just off I-65, the new campus consists of two facilities within a completely new subdivision. In addition to the 62,400-square-foot Joint Apprentice Training Fund (JTAF) building, the organization also now has a new roughly 13,000-square-foot administration building. The $13 million campus was completely funded by the union.

Construction Partners for the IKORCC Campus

General Contractor: Hasse Construction Company, Inc.
Architect: Lamson & Condon Architects, Interior Designers

Source: IKORCC, Hasse Construction

“Our decision to establish the new campus was made primarily because of the expansions we’re making to our apprenticeship programs,” said Scott Cooley, senior representative with IKORCC. “Construction is always changing, and certifications are critical for our members. These new building greatly enhance our training capabilities.”

The new campus boasts an array of amenities including meeting and conference space, traditional classrooms, computer labs, and of course several different types of hands-on training areas for specific carpentry, flooring, cabinetry, door installation, and other skills.

Quite possibly the most unique thing that apprentices are learning about is infection control risk assessment (ICRA), which is a specialized set of methods employed while working in hospital settings. Tiny microbes, fungi, or mold spores that like to hide in the crevices of hospital infrastructure can be fatal if accidentally disturbed by construction or maintenance work.






Shockingly, the IRCA philosophy is not actually required by health codes or legal standards. It’s something the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) is spearheading itself – even going to far as to extend the training to other union trades, hospital officials, security professionals, and others.

To meet these training needs, IKORCC experts have established a mini hospital within their new training center complete with actual medical equipment and fixtures donated by hospitals in support of the program. The space offers apprentices the opportunity to learn about barrier and pressure systems that prevent contagions and toxic materials from drifting about the hospital, and ways to properly secure medical areas from contaminants.

“We expect to see a significant decline in construction-related infection rates in our area as our journeymen master IRCA,” said Adam Fedak, business representative with IKORCC. “As many as 5,000 people die from infections caused by construction in hospitals each year. Our carpenters now have the knowledge to know what to look for and how to address it.”

It’s interesting to witness a union apprenticeship program totally ahead of the curve on such a complex safety issue. This is pure industry innovation totally divorced from outside regulation or requirements, as there aren’t any established state or federal mandates governing IRCA. The carpenters are demonstrating incredible stewardship for both their medical clients and their vulnerable patients, elevating not only construction safety but the optics and proficiencies of the entire industry in turn.