Wallace State cuts ribbon on Workforce Training Center

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Wallace State cut the ribbon on its new Workforce Training Center on Rehau’s campus Wednesday morning. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – City, county and state representatives in industry, business and education were gathered on the campus of Rehau Wednesday morning to celebrate the grand opening of a new facility that’s been years in the making. Wallace State’s new Workforce Training Center officially opened its doors, and everyone involved in the project is excited to see the new opportunities the new facility can help create.

The Workforce Training Center will provide facilities for training programs and services offered by the college’s Center for Career and Workforce Development. Initially, classes for phlebotomy, computer office training, fiber optics training, some manufacturing training and a Skills for Success lab will be offered at the site. Classes for Certified Nursing Assistant and Medication Assistant Certification are also planned to be held at the center soon. Space will also be available for use by area businesses and industries who need facilities for employee training. The facility will provide a central location in which to host classes and store materials and supplies for their programs.

Through its Pro Skills Pathways program, the Center for Career and Workforce Development offers short-term training to earn credentials students can use to get a job, advance in their current job or use as credit to articulate into a credit-bearing program at Wallace State. Customized training for business and industry and no-cost Skills for Success programs are also offered through the Center for Career and Workforce Development.

Before cutting the ribbon, several speakers representing Wallace State, local industry and local government shared some remarks, expressing their excitement for what the training center can mean for the community.

Wallace State President Dr. Vicki P. Karolewics

“Our theme for today is ‘Workforce ready’ because as one of Alabama’s most ambitious community colleges that is our mission, to assure that our region’s workforce is ready for the high-demand, high-wage jobs that are so plentiful here. This Workforce Training Center is a gamechanger. It’s a goal that we’ve had for a number of years. Not only does it make training more geographically accessible to our industry partners, it also provides the essential training space flexibility needed for a wider range of customized training for business and industry,” Karolewics said. “I promise you, our business and industry partners, that if your employees need to be trained, retrained or upskilled due to industry 4.0 or any other factor, Wallace State’s Workforce Training Center is your training partner.”

Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker

“Folks it’s been a pleasure serving the state as the chancellor of the Alabama Community College System and I get excited when I know what we’re doing across this state. As I told some people a little earlier, I’ve been a blessed soul to be able to spend the latter part of the time most folks would already be retired doing what I do,” Baker said. “Because I know that the community college system, as we do our jobs and as we improve what we have to offer to our communities, we are the best vehicle to bring about significant change in the lives of so many people. Being a lifetime Alabamian and benefiting from a lot of the resources of this state, it is a meaningful experience to be here today and know what the opportunities really can be.”

Representative Randall Shedd,

“This facility is phenomenal, and these things don’t just happen. The Chancellor mentioned that we as a community want to do things to make our community great and make it better and that’s what’s happening in our community. I remember a time when workforce development wasn’t needed because the workforce was unemployed,” Shedd said. “There was a time, believe it or not, when unemployment in Cullman County was 22%. That’s when the community got together and decided we had to do something about this. Certainly, that has changed, and a big part of that change has been Wallace State Community College. I believe very strongly in our community college system.”

Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs,

“What I think makes Cullman as good as we are for not being a huge town, and this was coined by a former councilman who’s gone to be with the Lord now, we just called it teamwork. We always work together,” Jacobs said. “I’m proud for this to be here, I’m thankful for this to be here and it’s greatly needed with the industry that we have.”

Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Dale Greer

“For years we envisioned having a workforce training center in the industrial park, but I’ll tell you I never imagined it would be at this level. This is pretty special and today it’s a reality and I’m really excited about it. Wallace and the flexibility of the workforce training they have there has been a critical piece of us being successful in economic development for years,” Greer said. “This community is among the best in Alabama when it comes to expanding industry and everything associated with that. Dr. Karolewics, Suzanne Harbin and their workforce team have a remarkable record of working with industry and I think their flexibility in listening to what companies are looking for and designing training for them has been special.”

Wallace State Vice President for Advancement and Innovation Suzanne Harbin,

“The growth that we have experienced, and we continue to experience in this last decade can be attributed to the powerful partnerships across education, economic development, our local state and national government officials, state and local nonprofits and our essential partners in business and industry who choose not only to locate here in our community but also continue to expand and grow here,” Harbin said. “The workforce training center is a significant step forward in our commitment to empowering individuals and fostering economic growth within our community. As we celebrate this milestone with a great sense of pride and optimism, it’s a symbol of our commitment to progress knowledge and community development.”

Executive Safety Director at R.E. Garrison Trucking, Inc. Tracy Rushing,

“Our partnership with Wallace State is a huge player in our ability to continue to grow in the downturn freight market. Workforce training is essential in our market. The basic operation of our vehicles is federally regulated so we have to lean on education partners because we want to haul freight, not train drivers, so it’s important for us. It’s a pleasure to celebrate the grand opening of this new workforce training center. It’s beautiful, we were blown away when we pulled up.”

Jimmie Hale Mission Director of Programs Jeremy Sturdivant,

“Thank you for the honor and the privilege of being in this partnership with Wallace State,” Sturdivant said. “I would say about 65% of the personnel and clients at our Royal Pines facility have been educated through Wallace State and I would dare to even say that a great deal of their recovery and their success in life’s journey as they leave the facilities, are due to the education and information that is provided through this wonderful institution.”

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