Governor Kay Ivey was joined by Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield, Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy Baker, Marshall County Superintendent Dr. Cindy Wigley, and Snead State Community College President Dr. Joe Whitmore on Friday, May 6, to announce an exciting new project.
Governor Ivey stood at the podium in Snead State’s historic Fielder Auditorium to announce the construction of a new Career and Technical Training Center that will facilitate business and industry’s training needs within the Northeast region.
“As Governor, it has been one of my biggest priorities to put our economy in a position to thrive. I want every Alabamian who wants a job to have one, and given the fact that we are experiencing our historic lowest unemployment ever, I say we’re doing a pretty good job. The economy is as strong as our workers are, and it is imperative that we continue to develop our workforce to meet the needs of the companies that call Alabama home,” said Governor Ivey.
“The development of the workforce center perfectly aligns itself with my ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ education initiative to ensure that Alabamians have the opportunity to obtain skills and credentials necessary to obtain high-wage, in-demand jobs that are available in this region and to increase Alabama’s labor force participation rate. I want to commend Snead State Community College and the Alabama Community College System for today’s announcement. I appreciate the important role that Alabama’s community colleges play in workforce development efforts around the State.
“Congratulations to the leadership of Marshall County for making this happen. This project is a model of what is possible when everyone works together. Snead State, the Marshall County Board of Education, and the Alabama Community College System all came together to make this possible. I look forward to breaking ground on this facility later in the year and to the thousands of future students who will be served once it’s completed.”
Snead State’s Career and Technical Training Center will be an approximately 45,000-square-foot project that is expected to initially house four Career and Technical Education programs – Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration; Welding Technology; Machine Tool Technology; and Industrial Systems Technology with Additive Manufacturing. In addition, the center will have adaptable and flexible space to interchange programs as needed by the local workforce. A conference area, engineering design and 3D fabrication laboratory is also expected.
“Our local business and industry have indicated through meetings that a center dedicated to training for high-demand, high-wage jobs within our community is needed, and Snead State is proud to provide what this center will be in order to accommodate those training needs,” stated Snead State President Dr. Joe Whitmore.
“One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 27:17, and it says, ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.’ That has struck me about what we’re doing here today because it’s the perfect description of the impact this new Career and Technical Training Center is going to have on our community. When we’re talking about how iron sharpens iron, it means being accountable to one another. It’s talking about helping each other get better, helping us to sharpen who we are, so that we can perform better and be better. Because of this announcement, we are going to work together to continue to sharpen our students to have meaningful employment and to be able to contribute to the quality of life we have in our county,” said Dr. Whitmore.
The Training Center is to be located on the campus of Marshall Technical School in Guntersville, and Snead State has worked with Superintendent Dr. Cindy Wigley and the Marshall County Board of Education to secure the property along U.S. Highway 431 for the construction of the Center.
“We have wanted this day for many years because we are passionate about our students making the full circle and having a direct connection to the workforce. The faculty and staff of Marshall Technical School, the Marshall County Board of Education and I could not be more excited about this project. We value our partnerships with Snead State Community College and postsecondary education. Some of the most important things we do as leaders for our students are to remove barriers, provide resources and services, and set clear pathways for success. This project does exactly that. It makes the full circle for our students,” said Dr. Wigley.
The Training Center is among various infrastructure projects to receive funding through the Public School and College Authority (PSCA) for capital improvements across Alabama’s community colleges. Governor Ivey earmarked $4 million for the construction of the Center, and Senator Clay Scofield played a critical role in keeping the plans for the Training Center at the forefront of the Governor’s mind and in securing additional funding for the project.
“I’ve always said that the best projects and the most successful projects are all team efforts. This has been the best example of any team effort I’ve ever seen in my 12 years of service,” said Senator Scofield. “I truly believe this is a game changer, not just for Marshall County, but for all of our area.”
The vision for the Training Center began with Snead State’s work on the Alabama Community College System’s ASPIRE (Achieving Systemwide Potential through Increased Resources and Engagement) Initiative. ASPIRE 2030 was launched by Chancellor Baker in May 2020 to inspire community-focused strategic planning for capital improvement projects that will advance the System’s goals of improving college transfer, increasing student completion, supporting the needs of local business and industry, and achieving equity in student participation and success.
“We are going to move forward in the Community College System. We already are. I’ve had to stop occasionally and remind some of our folks in the college system, that word ‘community’ is in the name of every school. Some folks have forgotten that, and unless we focus on that and carry the communities along with us, we aren’t doing our job. I knew this community was the kind of community that would support doing everything we can to touch everybody and to do what we should be doing to provide opportunities.
“I enjoy talking about Snead. I enjoy telling the story, and as we move forward, we aren’t through. We’re just beginning. We have a lot to do. We are in the business of serving communities where we are located and in doing everything we can to find a way to help every citizen in that community who wants or needs us to help them. That’s our commitment. That’s our mission,” said ACCS Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker.
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. Completing the ASPIRE 2030 initiative allowed Snead State campus officials to pinpoint specific needs and priority jobs in the local workforce. 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.
Local business and industry officials praised the new Training Center’s development.
John Pittard, President of AlaTrade Foods, said, “As systems become more technical, we continue to be challenged to find skilled technicians to operate and maintain equipment. We are encouraged by this opportunity and support the effort to advance current and future labor needs.”
“This centralized training center would not only benefit our industry but most industries in Marshall County, in addition to the Marshall County residents,” said Mark Drummer, Vice President of Operations for Atrion Medical Products, Inc.
Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood (GMC) has been selected as the architect on 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 groundbreaking of this project occurring as early as the fall.