CLARKESVILLE — State and local officials gathered on the campus of North Georgia Technical College in Clarkesville Wednesday morning to celebrate something officials believe will benefit all of North Georgia for decades to come.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the college’s new 45,000-square-foot Industrial Technology Center. The two-story building will come at a price tag of about $12 million, plus the equipment required for training in the programs offered inside, bringing the total investment to more than $14 million.
“The building will house our CNC Machine Tool program, which will offer the programs of applied technical management degree, our CNC technology diploma degree, our CNC certificate degree,” NGTC President Mark Ivester said. “Also, it will house our air conditioning programs, and they are very important and include air conditioning electrical technician certificate, advanced commercial refrigeration certificate, and the air conditioning technician assistant certificate.”
In addition to teaching opportunities, the facility will include what officials hope will be a hub of economic development in the region.
“The other component of this building will be the economic development department, which will include a conference room that will hold about 250 people, which is badly needed,” Ivester said. “Also, the other cool thing about that area is it will offer a general industry lab so that we can bring in existing industry and do customized training in that lab, and that will be so important.
“I just can’t say enough about what this means for our community, the students in our community and really, in the long run, our industries in filling a workforce,” Ivester said. “It’s huge, so we’re excited.”
Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Gretchen Corbin, speaking on behalf of Gov. Nathan Deal, said the facility will demonstrate the mission of Georgia technical education.
“The Technical College System of Georgia is about connecting students to companies, so anytime we can build an asset like this Industrial Technology Center that will assist our students going into local business we know it’s a good day for a college,” Corbin said. “At North Georgia Technical College, this Industrial Technology Center that will house our HVAC program, that will house our CNC program for local industry and advanced manufacturing, and also our economic development center, we know that we are doing what we should do by companies and by communities, and that is preparing for growth and making sure that we are investing in a community for the students, in the companies, in the communities for years to come.”
Corbin shared with those in attendance a brief explanation of CNC and the need for those skills.
“CNC: Computer numeric controls – it runs a plant,” Corbin said. “When we talk about automated, advanced manufacturing, we are talking about a new type of individual who is going to run our facilities, who will automate our facilities through CNC programming.”
Phil Sutton, chief administrative officer of Kubota Manufacturing of America in Gainesville, who also serves on the Technical College System of Georgia State Board, said that company is one of those that benefits from programs such as the ones offered at NGTC.
“Right now, I’m trying to hire 100 folks,” Sutton said. “The Technical College System of Georgia is the perfect place. We look to the high schools and the technical schools. This is our future. This is our never-ending, renewable resource of workers for the future, and this is where we’re looking just in the very beginning to find folks, so this is a great addition to Northeast Georgia, and it’s a great addition for all the manufacturers and all the businesses in this area. The Technical College System is really coming along, and they’re providing the lifeblood to manufacturing and other businesses, so I’m just thrilled to be a part of this.”
Demolition of an aging building on the Clarkesville college campus to make room for the new center will begin in June, and Ivester said construction will be about a 14-month process.
“A new facility does more about attracting students to these industrial trades, which we need so much,” Ivester said. “To change out a 1962 building with a brand new state-of-the-art building is huge. It will attract students, and it will keep them in North Georgia.”