The Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) Workforce Development Center, a project that will facilitate business and industry training needs in the state’s Northeast region, was announced at the college on Monday, April 11.
The center is among various infrastructure projects that will move forward in the next few years through Public School and College Authority (PSCA) funds for capital improvements across Alabama’s community colleges.
Alabama Community College System (ACCS) leaders, local public officials, and industry partners announced the development at NACC on Monday inside the Tom Bevill Lyceum Lobby.
“This is a landmark occasion here at Northeast and for our area,” stated NACC President Dr. David Campbell. “We will be conducting workforce training in a first-class, state-of-the-art facility, and this building will permit us to expand what we do and create the space on campus to establish new programs, particularly in healthcare. I can’t say enough about Chancellor Jimmy Baker’s vision to provide and expand workforce training in Alabama and for the support of our outstanding legislators to fund these projects, particularly Representative Nathaniel Ledbetter and Senator Steve Livingston with help from Representative Tommy Hanes.”
NACC’s workforce center plans include state-of-the-art laboratory space for programs centered on industrial systems maintenance, precision machining, design and 3D modelling, and building construction craft training. In addition, the center will have adaptable space flexible to interchange up to six programs as the local workforce needs.
NACC’s Dean of Workforce Development Kerry Wright also spoke about the new facility. “”The addition of this new facility will enable NACC to expand its capacity to serve more students and provide industry-specific training in high-demand career fields. Plus, added capacity means that NACC will continue to expand program offerings that will further support economic and workforce development initiatives in North Alabama,” said Dean Wright.
The center is supported by regional business and industry leaders to ensure ACCS is aligned with the needs of business and industry in Alabama. Manufacturing represented more than 30% of industry distribution in the DeKalb Country area in 2020, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.
“We appreciate our partnership with Northeast Alabama Community College as we have collaborated with them on our workforce training journey; from setting up a maintenance apprenticeship program, to partnering on wiring training plans, to providing direction and making connections with other resources to assist us,” stated Mark Evans, Vice President and General Manager of Rheem HTPG in Jackson County. “Congratulations on the new Workforce Development Center. This new facility will allow NACC to expand its services, supporting economic growth in the community. We look forward to seeing this new facility enhance the partnership between Rheem HTPG and NACC.”
The NACC Workforce Development Center and other projects across all community colleges were identified as a needed project by local communities through the ACCS ASPIRE 2030 initiative. The initiative was launched in May 2020 as the ACCS’s strategic planning process for use of the PSCA funds for capital improvements.
All 24 of the state’s community colleges engaged local public officials, community members, workforce partners, faculty, staff, and students during the ASPIRE 2030’s planning process to figure out how to best align services to more effectively serve communities, meet business and industry workforce needs, and increase overall student success. The statewide approach to identifying college and community needs has allowed the ACCS to utilize a cost-effective, shared services model on capital improvement projects for the first time.
Completing the ASPIRE 2030 initiative allowed NACC campus officials to pinpoint specific needs and priority jobs in the local workforce, including the following:
Industrial Systems: Electrical and Instrumentation, Mechanical Maintenance, Precision Machining, Advanced Design and Manufacturing, Welding and Fabrication
Building Construction: HVAC, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrical, Masonry & Concrete
Computer Science: Information Technology, Cyber Security, STEM
In addition to the use of PSCA funds, ASPIRE 2030 projects will be funded through a $100 million ACCS bond issue and other ACCS and college funds.
“In order to continue to meet the needs of the communities we serve, the infrastructure on our campuses must be addressed,” said ACCS Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker. “It is vital that we not only are able to meet existing needs but that we also plan for what will be needed in the future. This investment in workforce centers and infrastructure across the state’s community colleges is our effort to dream big, think strategically, and plan intentionally and responsibly to have the greatest impact on communities across the state.”
Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood (GMC) has been selected as the architect for the project.
Due to recent legislative changes to the management of construction and facilities oversight for the ACCS, a time savings of as much as six months is expected, with the groundbreaking of this project occurring as early as the fall.