RPCC breaks ground for Advanced Technology Center

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @DeRonTalley
Legislators and Louisiana Community and Technical College System leaders and RPCC’s Chancellor Dr. Dale Doty break ground for a new Advanced Technology Center on Feb. 4.

The River Parishes Community College broke ground on Feb. 4 for a new Advanced Technology Center. The groundbreaking is the beginning of Act 360 Louisiana legislators approved that allowed for the sale of more than $251 million in bonds to provide 29 community and technical college facility projects throughout the state.

RPCC Chancellor Dr. Dale Doty said the significance of this day for River Parishes Community College can’t be overstated but “we also need to keep in mind this is the first groundbreaking for the Act 360 series of projects that the legislature approved two years ago and we need to commend our legislators for their wisdom and vision in approving this program for us that will result in 28 other technical facilities around the state.”

“We are honored to be the first of the facilities to be built around the state and we could not do this without our foundation and the business community that supported this project,” Dr. Doty said.

The expanded program offerings that will be a part of the Advanced Technology Center are directed toward the skilled labor needs in the River Parishes. There is a shortage of workers needed to build the new and expanding plants in the area. The need for skilled welders, electricians, pipe fitters, millwrights, industrial carpenters, process operators and instrumentation technicians is well documented by Louisiana Workforce agencies.

The Advanced Technology Center will expand the training opportunities for local workers to start these professions and it will also help increase the skills of existing workers to meet the long term need for highly skilled craftsmen to operate and maintain the manufacturing facilities for the long term.

Several dignitaries attended the ground breaking on a wet and cold Wednesday morning, but they all agreed being cold and getting wet was worth while for this cause.

State Representative for District 58 Ed Price was a big proponent of Act 360, and said the entire delegation was as well.

“This groundbreaking today is truly close to me, I spent 37 years in the chemical industry. I know the need for a process technician, I know the need for instrumentation, I know the need out there for electricians,” Rep. Price said. “All of this is coming as a great need we’ll have in this area. There’s a lot of expansion going on. There are things that can happen right here that will provide jobs for our young people.”

Price added: “I know it’s raining real hard out there but we aren’t going to let the weather get ahead of us. We need rain and we need sunshine. We can’t have the crops without the rain, and certainly can’t have it without sunshine. So I always believe when we have a rainy day, afterwards the sun will shine. And we are going to have a bright future.”

RPCC’s board of directors had to raise a 12 percent match that valued at about $1.1 million to secure the building, and Dr. Doty said the board’s efforts was “significant.”

Dr. Monty Sullivan, Louisiana Community and Technical College System President, said there’s no question the river parishes are booming right now.

“Act 360 is fundamentally changing the face of Louisiana, growing the workforce,” Dr. Sullivan said. “The folks around the state aren’t real happy with the river parishes. They all wanted to be us in being the first. But a lot are motivated to be second, third or fourth. You did it. You did it because of the leadership who believed in this community.”

Dr. Doty added: “Our goal is to train the local population so the students can stay here where they want to live and have the opportunity for economic support. This is a wonderful place to be rain or shine.”