It was business as usual Tuesday for the Bay County Commission, but the meeting location was out of the ordinary.
Commissioners convened at Gulf Coast State College (GCSC) for their regularly-scheduled meeting, then donned hard hats for an inspection of the college's Advanced Technology Center (ATC).
What began as a concept in 2007 has turned into an 82,000 square foot, $35 million commitment to the future. When completed in June, the ATC will be a state-of-the-art center for technology education. Officials hope that translates into jobs.
The ATC is designed to tap into technology, train the next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs, and showcase local talent to prospective employers. "It just creates a lot of opportunities to bring in the work force that we need here in this area… particularly the high tech, high paying kind," said Dr. Jim Kerley, GCSC President. "We're a leg ahead of any other community by having this… it's probably the top one in the country."
Dr. Kerley said the keys to success will be integrating the ATC with the school district to benefit students from kindergarten through high school and partnering with business and the military. "If we are going to recruit new industry, this is where you want to bring them," he said. "It's just a fabulous facility that will make a difference for years to come."
The ACT is scheduled to open for the Fall 2013 semester.