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ACCS Innovation Center Headquarters Opens in Decatur

(News Release) More than 7,700 Alabamians have enrolled in rapid career training for in-demand jobs since the start of the Alabama Community College System’s Skills for Success courses. The engine behind the courses, the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) Innovation Center, opened a new headquarters in Decatur on November 1, to continue its work of adding skilled employees to the state’s workforce.

The Innovation Center headquarters is located in downtown Decatur at the renovated Decatur City Schools Central Office building on Fourth Avenue Northeast.

“This is a great day for Decatur-Morgan County, and really our state. This is moving the community college system into the future using technology,” said Sen. Arthur Orr. "It will provide opportunity to improve lives through improved employment and more compensation for residents to help themselves and be able to provide for their families. I believe this program is going to be very successful.”

Julie Frizzell, Executive Director for the Innovation Center, said business and industry are critical influencers on the training that Skills for Success offers, and that the Decatur facility gives employers an additional connection for Innovation Center resources throughout the state.

“We have continuous dialogue with business and industry leaders to see what the most pressing needs are and how we can become part of the solution,” she said. “We have ACCS Innovation Center staff located in each region to support our community colleges, so while training takes place across the state, it’s important to have a physical building like this one in a historic and special location like downtown Decatur.”

Skills for Success courses across the state have included the following: Bulldozer, CDL, Food and Beverage Services, Hotel Operations, Meat Cutter, School Bus Driver, Skid Steer and Fiber Optics, among others. With more than 20 courses in different phases of development, five courses will be released before the end of the year: Manufactured House Installer, Land Survey Helper, Excavator, Mental Health Worker and Emergency Medical Responder.

Thanks to the Alabama Legislature, Skills for Success courses are provided at no cost to the participants. The theory portion of the classes is offered online at a resident’s convenience. A hands-on lab portion, where a resident demonstrates his or her skills from the training, takes place after the online portion at a local community college or local business.

Participants who complete training also earn the ACCS Credential, which signals to businesses that the individual has mastered the skills taught in the program and is immediately ready for employment. The ACCS Credential can also be a foundation for additional classes and training at Alabama community colleges.

“The Alabama Community College System offers life-long learning opportunities, and Skills for Success training is one of the latest components to help Alabamians reach those career goals,” said Jimmy H. Baker, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. “It’s encouraging to learn about the success stories the training is generating, and I know our presence in Decatur will reap even bigger rewards.”

River Day, an employee of Southeast Gas in Montgomery, completed CDL training through the Skills for Success program.

“It has benefited me tremendously,” Day said. “I have experienced a pay raise and a little bit of a promotion because of it. Finishing the CDL helps a lot, not just with this job, but with future jobs I may be able to earn.”

The ACCS Innovation Center headquarters is a two-story, $3.3 million renovation completed by Huntsville-based Goodwyn Mills Cawood and Greer Building Contractors. The facility adds to Decatur’s downtown development initiative. The building is on the same street as the Cook Museum of Natural Science and within walking distance of the Alabama Center for Fine Arts, which is a partnership among Calhoun Community College, Athens State University and the city of Decatur.

Houston Blackwood, Workforce Director of the ACCS Innovation Center, said a youth leadership group has already used the facility for meeting space and additional groups have inquired about doing the same.



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