Ellisville, MS – The expansion of Jones County Junior College’s Jasper County Center in Bay Springs to a three-building facility means residents in the area will have access to more educational services and economic development. The previous office space housed the original and JCJC’s first, off-campus center in 2008. Within three years, Jasper County Supervisors and JCJC administrators realized the need to expand to a larger facility. The new 31,103-square foot Center was officially opened to the public with a ribbon cutting ceremony July 16. National, regional, state and local officials came together to celebrate the expansion.
“The (Jasper County) Board of Supervisors is the key to this whole facility (and) we wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it had not been for Dr. Smith (JCJC President),” said State Representative for Jasper County, Johnny Stringer. “Jones Junior College has never gone outside of Ellisville but other community colleges have gone out….It’s all because of Dr. Smith that we’re here in this building today. He’s given us an opportunity and the board has taken advantage of it, so we’re really grateful.”
The JCWTC has a 350-seat assembly room and auditorium, the Jasper County Economic Development Director’s Office, the Jasper County Workforce Development Center, and Jasper Hall which includes seven-classrooms, a welding lab, a computer lab, and Adult Basic Education/GED classroom and offices.
This is the fourth campus extension JCJC has opened in the last three years. Jasper County led the way in making education and job training available for all of its citizens, with the establishment of the first off-campus center said Dr. Jesse Smith.
“Our intent is to have a Center in each of the eight-counties we serve, eventually. Our area is not going to make it in America without more than a high school education,” said Dr. Smith.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves agreed with Dr. Smith about the importance of improving the educational level of the state’s citizens. The JCWTC represents the chance to improve educational levels.
“This facility represents the opportunity for people to get better educated and to get better trained for the jobs of the future. The government’s role is to create the environment which encourages those of you in the private sector to invest capital and create jobs,” said Reeves.
Originally Jasper County Supervisors estimated they would need $2.5 million for their vision to become a reality. However, with the East Central Planning and Development Districts’ assistance in finding more funding, officials realized the impact of their vision was more than a dream. Eventually, $4.5 million in funding came together from four main sources: $1,750,000 from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce (EDA); $350,000 from the Delta Regional Authority; $1,400,000 from the East Central MS Planning and Development District; $1,000,000 from the MS Development Authority (CAP Loan).
“We want to commend Jasper County for their vision and the courage to step out on this project,” said Community Development Director for the East Central Planning and Development District, Jenifer Buford. “You have a board of supervisors in Jasper County that are very proactive. They are visionaries.”
The U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, Jay Williams said he knew the ribbon cutting ceremony for the JCWTC was a monumental event because of the level of collaboration. He commended all of the participants who made the expansion of the Jasper County Workforce Training Center possible through funding or providing services. The former Youngstown, Ohio mayor said having the vision to excel and having the ability to provide education is a priceless gift to the public.
“Providing economic opportunity through education and through skills training is critical to keeping this region, this state and this country competitive. The investments we are making in education are invaluable….Making sure we have the skills that are necessary for today’s jobs and tomorrow’s jobs are some of the most important things that we in public service can do,” said Williams.
With 50 million people unemployed and five million available jobs, Alternate Federal Co-Chairman for the Delta Regional Authority, Michael Marshall said job training will be even more important in the coming years.
“Manufacturing will have fewer jobs but there is going to be more high skilled jobs. There will have to be workforce training programs in place like this facility here. That’s the key to our future. That’s the key to our economy. That’s the key to our growth. This is your money and it is being put to the right use,” said Marshall.
Jasper County Board of Supervisors attorney, Ricky Ruffin pointed out the impact the Center will have on the county is far reaching. He also added that taxes will not be raised to pay for the Center.
“Whether you’re a traditional student or a non-traditional student, you can get an education here. You can also learn a trade here. Through some of that innovation and progressive thinking by the board of supervisors, it’s not going to raise your taxes; not one dime. Be proud of this facility,” said Ruffin.
Bay Springs’ CEO of Hol-Mac Corporation, Charles Holder, is extremely proud of the new JCWTC. He believes if we can get the people who want to be trained it will be a blessing to the county.
“It will be a big help if they can come and train here for Hol-Mac Industries because the companies that don’t require training practically don’t exist anymore,” said Holder. “This is the best thing that’s happened in Jasper County as far as economic development. This is economic development.”
To ensure those economic development opportunities continue to grow and expand, the county’s Economic Development Director’s office is located within the Center. EDA Director, Haskins Montgomery said this is a perfect occasion for workforce development and economic development to work together.
“This facility will give our men and women an opportunity to apply themselves and to enjoy a better quality of life to provide for their families,” said Montgomery.
Currently, the JCWTC offers GED/ABE classes, academic college courses and non-credit workforce training in Microsoft Office software and welding. Machining and Commercial Truck Driving will be added in 2016 and future workforce training programs include Millwright, Mobile App Development and Health Care Assistant. College-credit for welding and commercial truck driving will also be offered soon.
While the main campus is located in Ellisville, Jones County Junior College’s newly expanded Jasper County Workforce Training Center is a part of a network of Centers in JCJC’s eight-county district. The Centers are located in Leakesville, Waynesboro and Stonewall. Each Center offers an “anchor” program, like health care, pipe-fitting and petroleum technology, as well as credit and non-credit college courses, Adult Basic Education, GED and workforce training, including technical skills training as needed.
For more information about the Jasper County Workforce Training Center, email Center Director, Gary Suddith at email@example.com or Lela Bryan at, firstname.lastname@example.org.