SkillsUSA competition stages final KC edition with celebrity Mike Rowe in attendance

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's the end of an era for educators in the metro. The SkillsUSA championship is leaving Kansas City, where it's been held annually for the past 21 years.

It's responsible for bringing over 6,000 technology students to the metro, and filling hotel rooms and restaurants.

Next year's contest moves to Louisville, Ky., where economic developers in town to observe this final KC version say they're getting a great convention.

"Kansas City grew Skills to the current state that it's in today, is what I understand," Stacey Yates, vice-president of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said.

"It's been successfully hosted here for 21 years. I think skills will tell you they owe a lot to the wonderful ways the city supported their event."

Yates tells FOX 4 News the agreement to move SkillsUSA out of Kansas City has been in place for two years.

SkillsUSA is more than a contest. It's an educational display where students actually show off the skills they've learned.

On Thursday, "Dirty Jobs" star Mike Rowe also showed up to shoot a segment for television, and to challenge champion welder Alex Pazkowski, who learned his craft through a SkillsUSA program in his town.

Once Rowe and Pazkowski straightened out their sparks, the torch-cutting challenge was on.

Pazkowski started out as a student and competitor in the SkillsUSA show. Now, with a silver medal on his resume, he teaches others to weld at a community college in Michigan.

"It was a way for me to excel at something and give myself that extra little push to really get better at welding," Pazkowski said.

He says his career found its footing thanks to SkillsUSA.

Other students dream of the same success. Conner Barrot and his teammates came from a high school outside Seattle. They competed in the crime investigation division, while dreaming of serving and protecting.

"This gives me more of an insight as to what I'm going to do," Barrot said. "It's more of like sense of what it's going to be like when I'm doing my job."

Residential wiring competitor Doug Lentz attends a community college in Kansas City, Kan. He says this contest is already energizing his career path.

"I've already had several employers reach out to me uninvited to speak to me about a job simply because I am part of this program," Lentz said.

The Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association says SkillsUSA's two-day event brought an economic impact of 16 million dollars. But this will be the final year before it's held in Kansas City.

As for Mike Rowe's new show, "Somebody's Got to Do It," it will air on CNN, but the news channel has not announced when the new program might hit air.

Click here for Sean McDowell's FOX 4 Facebook page.

Got a story idea? Call Sean directly at (816) 868-5543.

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