Director, Marketing & Public Relations
(864) 592-4931 or (864) 494-6679 (cell)
For Immediate Release
March 1, 2010
Union, S.C. – The Union County Development Board, in partnership with Union County, The City of Union, Spartanburg Community College and the University of South Carolina Union, announced the grand opening of the Union County Advanced Technology Center, including QuickJobs Development Center, at a celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony at the center on Friday, February 26 at 10 am.
Approximately 100 community residents, elected officials and special guests filled a crowded room to celebrate the unique partnerships begun over four years ago.
The event is the culmination of years of planning and collaboration among many local, state and federal entities all with dual goals in mind – to provide Union County residents with local technical job training and general educational classes, while at the same time providing a much-needed economic boost to the region through the development of a trained workforce to successfully compete in high-tech industries.
“We are thrilled that the Union County Advanced Technology Center is operational and now serving our community,” says Andrena Powell-Baker, executive director of the Union County Development Board. “Thanks to the collaboration of our partners and funding from multiple granting agencies, we –Union County residents– now have a $4 million dollar high-tech training center in our backyard and the opportunity to prepare for the next generation of high-tech, high-demand jobs. The possibilities are unlimited.”
The S.C. Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Administration, AdvanceSC and Competitive Community grants provided almost $4 million to establish the center. In addition to funds, each partner provided vital support for the project including the following:
- The City of Union furnished the architectural drawings and the land.
- Union County agreed to provide operating and maintenance support.
- USC Union will provide course work in general education.
- SCC is securing grants to provide technical training, furnishings and equipment for the center.
The 14,000-square-foot facility incorporates traditional classroom learning with hands-on technical training through three traditional classrooms, one industrial classroom, a computer lab and three industrial labs. SCC offers industrial training and technology courses in the QuickJobs Development Center, which is located within the Advanced Technology Center. Classes in welding and Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) certification began in fall 2009 through SCC’s Corporate & Community Education Division classes. Future training and apprenticeship opportunities currently in development include mechatronics, certified nursing assistant, arrhythmia technician monitoring, EKG technician as well as introductory health sciences courses. USC Union has taught general education courses such as math, English and political science courses at the center to date. Additionally, the university’s general education courses provide a seamless transition for students who desire to fulfill transferable academic requirements while taking technical courses at the center.
“It is an incredible day in Union County” stated Dr. Hugh C. Rowland, campus dean, USC Union. “This center was conceived by bold leadership from many outstanding partners as an economic development project that would not only benefit our community, but serve as a model for our state.”
Rowland went on to explain that the center allows USC Union an opportunity to fulfill the university’s mission of providing a high quality and affordable education to the Union community.
Dr. Para M. Jones, president of Spartanburg Community College, sees the partnership at the Union County Advanced Technology Center as an invaluable opportunity for all involved. “Our changing economy mandates that we forge partnerships and work together to support our economy and our citizens. This center is a shining example of that.
“With an unemployment rate of 12.7% in the college’s service areas of Union, Cherokee and Spartanburg counties, this center is needed now more than ever before,” states Jones. “I see this center as the beginning of great things – an evolution of serving our community through partnerships involving education, technical training, workforce and economic development.
“This center represents the core mission and vision of SCC – to change lives and build futures by acting as a catalyst for economic development through innovation, collaboration and excellence in our educational programs and services. The center will afford Union County residents the opportunity for hands-on training, certifications and skills that will ultimately make them more valuable employees for local industry after they graduate and enter the workforce.”
S.C. House of Representative member Mike Forrester, also SCC’s director of economic development, who has been involved in the center’s development since inception said he had never before seen so many entities work together for a community’s benefit. “This has been a fantastic journey – this truly is a great day in Union County.”
Forrester welcomed special guests including representatives from the offices of U.S. Congressman Lindsey Graham and U.S. Congressman Bob Inglis; S.C. House of Representatives member Mike Anthony; and S.C. Department of Commerce’s Bonnie Ammons.
The City of Union Mayor Harold M. Thompson spoke of the center as being a reminder of learning and achievement to all in the community.
Also in attendance was Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair, who stated, “I am happy to be here on behalf of Union County. This center has grown and has had many names for a good reason – so many partners have had a part in making this day a reality. This Union County Advanced Technology Center is an excellent example of government at all levels using resources and tax dollars wisely to benefit a community.”
At the conclusion of the formal program, demonstrations on robotic equipment used in teaching were shown and tours of the center were conducted.