Hundreds of business executives, community leaders, elected officials, students and citizens got their first look at Alamance Community College’s recently-opened Advanced Applied Technology Center at a special event on October 6, which included speeches, a ribbon-cutting, and tours.
The $16 million, 55,000 square foot state-of-the-art tech center opened in time for fall semester in August. However, the Oct. 6 event – scheduled to coincide with National Manufacturing Day – was the community’s first opportunity to tour the facility and speak with business and industry leaders who have partnered with the College to develop a 21st century workforce, much of it focused on advanced manufacturing.
“This is a game-changer for the College, for our students and for local business and industry,” said College President Dr. Algie Gatewood. “This facility represents more than bricks and mortar. It represents this College’s role in addressing a skills gap that continues to impact local business and industry. Through this facility, Alamance Community College will enlarge, enhance and fill a pipeline of skilled workers desperately needed by local employers.”
The Advanced Applied Technology Center – the most sophisticated and ambitious capital project since the College was founded in 1958 – unites and expands five industrial programs: Mechatronics Engineering, Computer-Integrated Machining, Welding, Automotive Systems, and Air Conditioning-Heating-Refrigeration.
“Not only does it ensure the safest and highest level of instruction possible for our students, it is the answer to local industry’s call to graduate this workforce in larger numbers and graduate them much sooner,” said Bill Gomery, ACC Board of Trustees Chairman.
The Center will allow the College to enroll and train more students and move them more quickly into the jobs pipeline. At the August State of Alamance economic summit – sponsored by the Triad Business Journal and hosted by ACC – industry leaders bemoaned the rapidly growing “skills gap,” emphasizing that Baby Boomers retiring from the workforce cannot be replaced fast enough.
The College’s Advanced Applied Technology Center is expected to play a role in business recruitment and industry retention in Alamance County. North Carolina ranks 4th nationally in manufacturing jobs and is the largest manufacturing state in the Southeast.
Said Eddie Boswell, Chairman of the Alamance County Board of Commissioners: “Our board recognized the ROI [Return on investment] of this facility. In 2014, our board found the funding to push this much-needed project forward. This county has made a significant investment in this facility – and I’m confident it will pay dividends for decades to come.”
Among those attending the public event were (seen here) Mark Walker, U.S. Congressman; Rick Gunn, North Carolina State Senator; Stephen Ross, N.C. Representative; and Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF Foundation President.