On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton joined N.C. legislators, state and local officials, and Cleveland Community College trustees and staff for the official groundbreaking of the new 30,000-square-foot advanced manufacturing center. The new center will provide training programs in mechanical drafting, electronics engineering technology, automation engineering technology, industrial systems technology, and computer integrated machining.
The new center was a result of several funding partners including, $9 million from the North Carolina General Assembly, $2 million from the Connect NC Bond, and $1.5 million in Community-Based Grant Initiative funding awarded by the Golden LEAF Foundation Board.
At the event, N.C. Speaker of the House Tim Moore said, “Some of the best money we spend in the state is with our community colleges. The community colleges get folks into current jobs and jobs of tomorrow. This center will benefit the entire region.”
Officials at the college worked for years to develop the best center for area business and industry.
“I started working on this project in December of 2016,” said Dr. Bruce Mack, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development. “We were looking to renovate our vocational programs because we were starting to run out of space. We gathered a lot of input on what to do and what not to do.”
The college sought the input of local advisory boards.
“We have a great relationship with local industries with our workforce development committee,” said Mack. “I spearheaded a local advisory committee with over 40 different industries represented. We created subcommittees from different industries to hone in on the equipment we needed to buy because this is a building specific to our industries we serve. We train people to work for them or are training their people for advancement.”
Part of the due diligence included visiting manufacturing centers around the state and even out of state.
“I asked everyone what they would have done differently,” said Mack. “We used their failures to help create our building.”
The Golden LEAF Board awarded the college $1.5 million in June 2017 for constructing the new center. The college then ran into several transitions which slowed down the initial construction timeline.
“We had a president retire, then an interim president, and finally a new president in 2018,” said Mack. “There is only one current board member from when the project started. The transitions provided time for reflection and new ideas.”
Now that there is more room, Mack is focusing on filling each class.
“These are high demand, high wage, and high skill jobs,” said Mack. “We are doing a push in marketing. We also have a great partnership with the local school system through our Advanced Manufacturing Academy. The program lets students take high school and college classes, provides internships, and gets students jobs in the industry. We have had great success with this program.”
Officials with the Cleveland Community College Advanced Manufacturing Center plan to open the doors for classes in the Fall of 2022. With the number of jobs available in the area and the new building and equipment, the future of advanced manufacturing looks bright in Cleveland County.