Calhoun Community College cut the ribbon on the new 23,400-square-foot, $7 million automotive technology building on the Decatur campus Thursday.
“This year, we faced many obstacles with maneuvering our in-person classes online and working more closely with our students to ensure they were able to adjust and get the resources they needed to complete their courses,” said Joe Burke, Calhoun’s interim president. “As I look into the crowd, it warms my heart to see our very first cohort of automotive students learning in this building through hands-on training. A few months ago, this was something we didn’t think would happen, but we’ve found a way to train students in a safe environment, and for that, it is a great day.”
Calhoun received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to build the facility in 2017. The program is expected to create 219 jobs and generate $32 million in private investments.
The two-year program will provide students with entry-level skills in the automotive service and repair industry. It is in the process of obtaining accreditation from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, and it also plans to become a Master Automobile Service Technician accredited program. The MAST accreditation will include suspension and steering, brakes, engine performance, engine repair, heating and air conditioning, electrical/electronic systems, automatic transmission/transaxle and manual drive transmission and axles.
“I represent the many franchises that came together and decided that the Tennessee Valley needed a technical school that will assist in producing more skilled automotive technicians,” said Cathy Anderson, of Woody Anderson Ford. “We now have that and appreciate the dedicated instructors who are now reaching students in middle school and exposing them to the automotive industry at an early and impressionable age.”
Alabama State Sen. Arthur Orr said, “This monumental event is about the people who will pass through the doors of this building and obtain a skilled trade that will allow them to enter into the workforce and earn a great living that will help support their families.”