Gov. Ivey visits Jasper to celebrate new HVAC Training Center
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey was a special guest at Tuesday’s press conference about the new HVAC Training Center that will open in Jasper early next year. Daily Mountain Eagle - Ron Harris
By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
State and county officials, along with Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, celebrated the new HVAC Training Center on Tuesday that will open in Jasper early next year.
Through a partnership with Bevill State Community College and Alabama Power, the HVAC Training Center will be developed in Jasper to train people in heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
A press conference was held Tuesday at the old HTNA building along Industrial Parkway in Jasper that will be the future home of the HVAC center. BSCC President Dr. Kim Ennis, Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy Baker, Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper), Chief Executive Officer of Alabama Power Company Mark Crosswhite and Gov. Kay Ivey spoke during the conference, where Ennis, Crosswhite and Baker signed a memorandum of understanding and joint program development agreement to solidify the partnership between Alabama Power and BSCC for the training facility.
“This is a very important event today for our area, for Walker County, for Jasper and our whole entire region,” Ennis said to the crowd that included community leaders and state representatives. “Projects like this are the model for public and private partnerships that advance training and education for citizens of the area and help drive economic development.”
Ennis said Alabama Power has longstanding partnerships with the college that include a mine safety training program that is the only one of its kind in the state and a technical training center in Sumiton.
Alabama Power will relocate its current HVAC Training Center in Clanton to Jasper, and Bevill State will retrofit the old HTNA building to include six classrooms, six laboratory areas, six or more offices and an auditorium to accommodate more than 100 students.
“For all of us, the HVAC center is important. If you don’t believe it, walk outside for a few minutes and stand today,” Crosswhite said. “The training center is going to provide students with the technical skills they’ll need in the HVAC industry. That will include choosing the right equipment, learning how to install and service that equipment and then making sure it operates at peak performance. This facility will make sure that the people who do that job have the expertise they need to do it right. We know the work they do is terribly important, and now they’re going to have more ways to develop their skills right here at Bevill State.”
After a warm reception, Ivey said she is excited about the economic growth the HVAC Center will provide by training a new generation of highly skilled workers.
“The best investment in economic development is an investment in education,” Ivey said. “If we don’t have a qualified, effective, up-to-date workforce, then the top companies will not come to Alabama no matter what we do. A well-trained workforce is essential.”
Ivey continued, “As technology changes and as the economy changes, it is important that we also continue to train for those jobs that will not, cannot be replaced by technological advances. People will always need electricians, mechanics, plumbers, welders and yes, even HVAC workers. That’s why today’s announcement is so important.”
Baker said new training facilities, like the one in Jasper, will improve Alabama’s economic strength.
“I’m excited about knowing that we’re working on other projects across the state that will lend themselves to providing that skilled labor force so we can tell companies, organizations that we have a skilled labor force, we have a quality labor force and we can service your needs,” Baker said. “That way we don’t have to buy everything we get.”
Reed said he and his wife graduated from BSCC, and he’s encouraged to see the college partnering with Alabama Power to provide another educational option.
“It is thrilling to see what is able to be accomplished when men and women of a singular purpose focus their efforts together to bring the public and private sectors together to accomplish great things,” Reed said.
Alabama Power’s original HVAC facility opened in Clanton in 1986 and has since served more than 33,000 students from 45 states and four countries.
Ivey said during the press conference that she recently announced more people are employed in the state of Alabama than they have been in the past 10 years, but she said 100,000 people are still not employed. She said it’s her goal to make sure everyone who wants a job in Alabama can have one, and that the HVAC center will provide training for citizens to have a lifelong, well-paying career.
“This is a great day for Bevill State, for Alabama Power, for Jasper, for Walker County and the surrounding region,” Ivey said. “It’s a great day for the state of Alabama.”
After the press conference, Ivey was pressed to announce if she has intentions to run for governor. She was quick to respond that she’s simply focused on the tasks at hand.
“Now that I’m governor, my first focus has to be, should be, ‘ought to be, will be governing. My job is to govern, and I’m trying to do that to the very best of my ability to help find ways to bring new, quality jobs to our state and put our people back to work,” Ivey said. “You can’t get it all done overnight, so I’m just trying to focus on governing for now.”
Ivey’s visit to Jasper marks the first stop on her Listen, Learn Help & Lead tour across Alabama.