Federal, state and local officials joined Georgia Piedmont Technical College President Dr. Jabari Simama June 19 for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new Transit Training facility that will be located at their Regional Transportation Training Center in Lithonia.
"This day is extremely important because it marks the expansion of our current transportation training facility," said Dr. Simama. "Our goal, with the help of our partners, is not only to serve the transportation training needs of the Metro Atlanta area, but the entire east coast," he continued. "Thanks to a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, we will be able to transform this pavilion into a state-of-the-art Transit Training facility."
Carl Swearingen, a Technical College System of Georgia State Board Member who represents the 6th Congressional District, offered greetings from TCSG Commissioner Ronald Jackson and praised the leaders of Georgia Piedmont Technical College for taking the necessary steps to make their vision for an enhanced Regional Transportation Training Center a reality. "In Georgia, we have the need for 55,000 operators with Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDLs), especially now that the harbor in Savannah is being expanded. We'll need lots of drivers to carry the freight that comes into that harbor," Swearingen said. "Many of the CDL operators we need will be able to get their training right here at this facility," he added.
TCSG State Board Member At-Large, W. Jackson Winter, expressed his enthusiasm regarding the RTTC expansion but also commented on the General Educational Development (GED) program offered by technical colleges throughout the state. "We have a great GED program and I encourage folks who have not completed their high school education to pursue the GED programs offered by Georgia's technical colleges. Having that credential will open door, after door, after door, as you search for job opportunities," he said.
MARTA's CEO and General Manager, Keith Parker, spoke of the magnitude of this facility to Metropolitan Atlanta's economy. "I applaud Dr. Simama for his willingness to take on new challenges and build on past efforts," Parker said. "The groundbreaking for this facility is a big deal to MARTA. We believe in education and we need you to help us build a great workforce," he added. "This program has produced 700 MARTA bus operator candidates and we look forward to hiring many more," he said.
Several elected officials and dignitaries attended the event, including: Roger Wise, who attended on behalf of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle; Adrian Barrett with the US Department of Labor; Elizabeth Warner, representing the Georgia Department of Labor; the Mayor of Lithonia, Deborah Jackson; Paulette Suggs, representing U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson; members of the GPTC Board of Directors; and representatives from Georgia Piedmont Technical College's Transit Training Advisory Board.
Georgia Piedmont Technical College offers seven transit-training programs. Fall enrollment for classes that start on August 20 is occurring now. For more information go to www.gptc.edu or call 404-297-9522.