“This is definitely a great day for the college,” Enterprise State Community College President Matt Rodgers said to an audience of students, instructors and government officials waiting for the news that Gov. Kay Ivey came to Ozark Jan. 19 to bring.

Ivey announced that the Alabama Aviation College, a unit of ESCC, has received a $2.5 million grant. The funds are part of the Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund, which awards funds for projects that promote economic development.

The Alabama Aviation College is the only aviation maintenance program in the state. Certifications and degree programs offered at Alabama Aviation College include airframe technology, Aviation Composite Materials, Aviation Maintenance Foundations, avionics technology, general aviation technology and power plant technology.

The Ozark campus is one of three Alabama Aviation College locations. There are also AAC campuses in Albertville and Andalusia.

“The dedication of our students is undoubtedly making a mark on the aviation industry,” Rodgers said. “We have some of the best and brightest students walking through our halls.”

The Alabama Aviation College has experienced consistent growth over the last several years, including increasing enrollment by nearly 100 students this semester, Rodgers said.

The grant funds will be used to renovate campus infrastructure to expand the college’s Advanced Composite Training Program and to prepare the campus for future program expansions.

“I am proud to award this $2.5 million grant to the Alabama Aviation College and provide funding for lab space for the new Advanced Composite Materials program,” Ivey said. “While this grant is for the aviation program, the infrastructure updates it provides will also help to ensure the Ozark campus of Enterprise State Community College is ready to meet all the workforce needs of local business and industry.”

The first phase of the renovation project is slated to begin in the summer of 2018 and all work is expected to be completed in 2019.

Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting told the audience that he had been “deeply concerned about the direction our aviation college had taken,” and said he had expressed that concern to Jimmy Baker, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System.

“We had a great meeting,” Bunting said. “He had the same concerns and he assured me that the aviation college would be making a positive turn.

“We have met several times since,” Bunting said. “I stand here today knowing that this great institution is moving to the top of the mountain.”

Bunting had high praise for Rodgers, who was named president of ESCC four months ago. “He is a great college president,’ Bunting said. “We are beginning to turn the corner.”

“We appreciate Governor Ivey supporting our efforts to provide a first-class educational setting for the students in our service area,” Rodgers said. “These improvements will allow us to enhance existing programs and work closely with local and state industry leaders to meet the demands of our ever-changing workforce.”

Baker agreed. “I’m proud that Governor Ivey recognizes the great work being done across Alabama’s community colleges to train our state’s workforce for high-demand, high-wage jobs,” he said. “The improvements at the Ozark campus will have an immediate positive impact on the students we serve and will also take large strides towards ensuring the campus is meeting the needs of business and industry in the Ozark community.”

“This is only the beginning,” Rodgers added. “Great days are ahead for the college and the communities we serve.”

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