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Gadsden State breaks grounds for new technical facility
Gadsden, Ala. — Students, employees, alumni, local leaders and
community supporters gathered Feb. 21 at Gadsden State Community College
for the groundbreaking of the new Advanced Manufacturing and Workforce
Skills Training Center. It will be constructed on the East Broad Campus
Gadsden State President Kathy Murphy was joined at the podium by Lt.
Gov. Will Ainsworth (R-Alabama); Keith Phillips, vice chancellor of
Workforce Development for the Alabama Community College System; Goodrich
“Dus” Rogers, member of the ACCS Board of Trustees; Sen. Andrew Jones
(R-District 10); Lisa Morales, executive director of East AlabamaWorks;
Dr. Alan Cosby, superintendent of Etowah County Schools; and Alan Smith,
dean of Workforce Development at Gadsden State.
“This facility will transform the lives of our people in our community
for good and forever,” Murphy said. “It’s a day to be thankful and
The Gadsden State Advanced Manufacturing and Workforce Skills Training
Center was identified as a needed project through the ACCS ASPIRE 2030
initiative, which provides funding for facility upgrades and new
construction for all levels of education in Alabama.
“In this very place, we will build a building that will change lives,”
Murphy said. “I believe we all have a calling. I believe we should pull
people up. We literally pull people up at our College. Then, we set them
up for success through their education and skills training. Then, we
push them up to high-wage occupations. And, at the end of our journey,
when we wrap it up, we are fulfilling our calling.”
Phillips asked the crowd of approximately 200 to consider what would
happen if Gadsden State didn’t exist.
“What would this area look like? How would we succeed?” he said. “We’d
have almost $208 million missing from the local economy.”
A recent economic impact study stated the College provided $207.9
million in added income during the fiscal year 2021 to the service area,
which covers Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah, Calhoun and St. Clair counties.
The study shows that Gadsden State supports 3,555 jobs in the community.
Jones also touted the economic impact study’s findings.
“A student from Gadsden State has a return of $6.90 in higher future
earnings for every dollar students invest in their education,” he said.
“Who else can provide that rate of return? It’s pretty amazing. We need
to make sure our young people understand that they can get a skill or a
credential at Gadsden State and make just as much if not more than those
with academic degrees. I’m excited about the potential of this new
Rogers said he, too, looks forward to the completion of the new
“This facility will improve the quality of life in this area,” he said.
“It will enhance economic development to the point that it will
positively impact people who haven’t been born yet.”
Ainsworth said that 65 percent of Alabamians do not have an associate or
bachelor’s degree. He sees the Advanced Manufacturing and Workforce
Skills Training Center as an avenue for training those in need of
employment or job advancement.
“They can come to Gadsden State and get trained for 21st century jobs,”
he said. “As a result, you will have a skilled workforce, which will
make it easier for your team to recruit business and industry to this
area. This is a great day for Gadsden State and a great day for
As executive director of East AlabamaWorks, Morales and her team “wake
up to work on workforce development,” she said. Her organization is a
part of a system that recruits, trains and empowers a highly-skilled
workforce driven by business and industry needs.
“This facility will certainly benefit our region,” she said. “It will
benefit our state. It will help us meet our goals. Today is a
gamechanger. We look forward to the positive impact today and in the
Cosby said he was pleased with the turnout from Gadsden State supporters
at the groundbreaking ceremony.
“I don’t remember something bringing together this many facets and
groups of people,” he said. “So many people are coming together and
working together to make sure we have a trained workforce. We have
people here in Etowah County who want to work. We have people here that
will take workforce training, and will see things happen that has never
happened before. I’m excited about this project and about our
partnership with Gadsden State.”
Smith was instrumental in getting support for the facility from city,
county and state officials as well as local business and industry. He is
grateful for those who supported the idea of an advanced manufacturing
facility at Gadsden State.
“Thank you to everyone who listened to me when I asked you for your
support,” he said. “This new facility will allow us to make shifts in
education and training as workforce needs change. We can provide
reskilling and up-skilling for adults. There’s so much we can do.
“This is a big day for me but, most importantly, it’s a big day for our
community,” he said. “It’s a historic day.”
Gadsden Mayor Craig Ford made a surprise announcement that the city is
committing to $50,000 per year for the next five years as long as
funding is available.
“The Ford family has a long heritage here,” he said. “We love Gadsden
Other entities that previously made financial commitments to the
Advanced Manufacturing and Workforce Skills Training Center are Etowah
County Commission, Etowah County Sales Tax, City of Attalla, City of
Glencoe, Rainbow City, Reece City, Etowah County Schools and The Chamber
of Gadsden & Etowah County.
The construction cost of the 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art
facility is approximately $24 million. It will feature 10 laboratories,
seven classrooms, 11 offices, a multipurpose room, 10 tool and storage rooms,
a storm shelter, a testing suite, a kitchen and serving area, a break room and
six restroom areas. It will also feature glass viewing areas that allow prospective
students and industry partners to have laboratory visibility during tours; a
safety entrance for students loading and unloading from cars or buses;
and a digital display with information for job seekers and industry
To make a tax-deductible donation to the Advancing Manufacturing and
Workforce Skills Training Center, please contact John Roberson, director
of Advancement and Alumni Relations, at 256.549.8377.