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Alabama Community College System’s Innovation Center launches

Each of the first students to complete training through the $10 million innovation center were hired after their training.


The Alabama Community College System’s $10 million Innovation Center launched on Monday, promising to train people in short-term classes to work in several industries.  

“Every Alabamian deserves an opportunity to succeed in the state’s economy. It’s not always that someone needs two years at the community college to make them have the skills viable for the labor market, so we have found a way to expedite the training so we can move people more rapidly into the market,” said Jimmy Baker, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System in a statement. “The Innovation Center is where we house people to devote to the process of developing curriculum for training, no matter what it may be, so that residents can take those credentials and either get to work or get promoted with the right skills for their job.” 

Mara Harrison, Interim Executive Director of the Innovation Center, speaks to the crowd gathered at Monday’s launch of the center.
Photo credit: Gary Tramontina

Students, college system leaders and industry partners watched a demonstration Monday of some of the training the center offers. Students in those short-term classes can train from anywhere in the state with an in-person lab in a regional Alabama Community College System location. Once completed, students will receive a credential and can earn more certificates at their local community college, according to a press release. 

Mark Colson, President and CEO of the Alabama Trucking Association, in a statement said the country’s trucking industry is facing a critical shortage of about 80,000 drivers. 

“Here in Alabama, trucking already provides 112,000-plus jobs – about 1 out 15 in the state. These are high-quality jobs offering great pay and endless career path opportunities. We are proud to partner with the Alabama Community College System to ramp up efforts to attract and connect job-seekers with the training they need to enter the trucking industry,” Colson said. 

Of the first students to come through the innovation center’s pilot project, who received training in the hospitality industry, 100 percent of those students were matched and hired after their training, according to the release. 

The innovation center also provides training to be employed as a butcher and Meat Cutter, CDL truck driver, diesel technician, plumbing helper, heavy equipment operator and facilities maintenance worker. 

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“Lawson State is excited about this opportunity to continue to connect with the great network of ACCS colleges through the Innovation Center,” said Cynthia Anthony, President of Lawson State Community College, in a statement. “We are so glad to see the birth of this new center as it will showcase our creativity and our ability to meet the needs of our local industries and grant us access to partnerships that will aid in enhancing the opportunities we are able to present to our students and the community.”

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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