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JSU, Gadsden State to Dedicate Ford Center May 10

May 6, 2004 -- Dedication ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Monday, May 10, for the Joe M. Ford Center for Economic Development on the East Broad campus of Gadsden State Community College.

The center is a partnership between GSCC, Jacksonville State University, and the state. It was established to serve as an education and economic development resource for business, industry, government, and economic developers.

The facility also provides educational opportunities to retain, train, and retrain the work force in the Etowah-Calhoun county region. The concept came to fruition following the decision by the Department of Defense to close Fort McClellan; the shutdown of Gulf States Steel and downsizing of other businesses and industries looming in the future.

The $4.3 million facility houses the Gadsden Center of Jacksonville State University, which includes administrative offices, classrooms, and laboratories.  GSCC administrative offices are also located in the building along with the GSCC Training for Business and Industry, the JSU Small Business Development Center, and executive suites for local, regional, state, and federal officials, including community-based economic development agencies.

The building is named in honor of the late Rep. Joe Ford, who served in the Alabama Legislature from 1976 until his death in June, 2000. He served in a number of positions at Gadsden State and held the post of director of development when he retired in early 2000.

Officials at both schools are excited about the potential for the center in the future.

"The center provides educational opportunities for the area's workers and will foster the development of strategic initiatives to serve our current work force while planning for its future," said Dr. Renee Culverhouse, President of Gadsden State.

JSU President William A. Meehan pointed out that JSU can more effectively serve its more than 400 graduate and undergraduate students in the Gadsden area, who have an average age of 27. "They are mostly working adults who attend college in late afternoon or evening," said Dr. Meehan. "Through the Joe M. Ford Center for Economic Development, our two institutions share an important mission in helping these students obtain a college degree."

Funding for the building came from former Gov. Don Siegelman, the Alabama legislature, Gadsden State Community College, Jacksonville State University, the Small Business Administration, Appalachian Regional Commission, and the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Construction began in the fall of 2002 and was completed in the fall of 2003.

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