Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller gave the keynote address, officials unveiled a huge blue sculpture and balloons arched over a walkway.

Wednesday was the grand opening of the Salt Lake Community College's extensively remodeled Applied Technology Center, which was announced last spring at a news conference.The center brings together in one spot a number of programs already existing at SLCC and also allows the college to respond to business and industry needs. Among the center's services are short-term training, Custom-fit Program to train people for immediate job openings, development of new and existing industry in Utah, workshops and conferences, college credit for on-the-job experience and technology transfer.

The real stars of the new center weren't immediately visible Wednesday. But, as the more than 300 business leaders and public and higher education officials toured the ATC, formerly known as the metal trades building, there they were: the students.

Welding or working on a graphics design project, the students seemed intent on their business, occasionally looking up as the dignitaries filed by.

Those students are, Miller had told the business leaders at an earlier breakfast, the reason that he's agreed to participate in several ATC activities at the college. They are the reason that SLCC exudes excitement, he said.

Miller, who owns 10 car dealerships besides the Jazz franchise, likened the students to himself - risk takers. They are taking a risk on education to improve their lives.

"They are people intent on making their lives better. I know that sounds trite, but you have to understand that the average student is 29 years old . . . They are not satisfied with the career path they're on, so they've stepped out of what they're doing to come here and upgrade their skills," Miller said.

Praising the college for its efforts to educate and train workers for the "real world" of work, Miller urged the business leaders to donate dollars, equipment and materials to SLCC and to hire SLCC graduates.

"They are people who are here because they want to make something of themselves and that desire will make them better employees."

The college's ATC also received praise from Gov. Norm Bangerter, who stressed the need to train workers who can compete in an increasingly technical world.