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Toyota pledges $1 million during Advanced Technology Center of South Central W.Va. opening

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The opening of a 55,000-square foot, two-story, multi-faceted training facility for customized workforce development and events was celebrated Aug. 19 at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park.

The Advanced Technology Center of South Central West Virginia is the first of two such facilities planned for the state. The second is being constructed in Fairmont under the direction of Pierpont Community and Technical College.

“Today we celebrated our continued commitment to ensuring our students receive the best education possible, and we marked a significant step in providing workforce development and training opportunities in West Virginia,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said. “With the opening of the Advanced Technology Center, we are giving students at BridgeValley Community & Technical College and others in the region the tools to receive the training they need with tailored programming designed to meet the needs of our economy now and in the future.”

The Community and Technical College System of West Virginia approved the new ATC to address West Virginia's needs for a well-trained, technically advanced workforce as well as a setting for collaboration in the delivery of technical programs among community and technical colleges.

The center was built through a state-supported initiative, and will provide laboratory space for such programs as advanced manufacturing technology, chemical process technology, advanced welding technology, computer networking technology and emergency management technology. Toyota's pledged $1 million to further enhance BridgeValley Community and Technical College's new Advanced Technology Center during the dedication.

“Raising the college attainment rate of our adult population is a solid strategy for advancing economic development efforts,” said WVCTCS Chancellor James L. Skidmore. “Additional college graduates increase West Virginia's skilled workforce, assist in attracting new industries and provide career paths for our brightest students without leaving the state.

“This new facility will offer programs geared to all learners that will lead to high-paying, high-demand careers in the region, due to partnerships with industry leaders.”

The West Virginia Community and Technical College System applied for and was awarded a $25 million Department of Labor consortium grant in 2013, and BridgeValley serves as the lead “Bridging the Gap” institution. BridgeValley also received a five-year, $617,500 grant from the National Science Foundation S-STEM grant program in 2013 to offer scholarships for students entering its applied and engineering technology programs.

“The ATC is not a typical academic building; it is designed for use by business and industry partners to set up customized training, by public school partners to encourage youth to pursue STEM careers, and by many educational partners to bring specialized offerings to the region when there is a demand,” said BridgeValley President Jo Harris. “With the opening of the facility, West Virginia becomes part of a network of Advanced Technology Centers across the nation that focuses on creating critical partnerships between workforce education and economic development.”