The Jackson County School District partnered with the Jackson County Economic Development Authority to launch another Alabama first from Jackson county. The trailblazing Innovation and Career Academy broke ground at the Jackson County Industrial Park, on October 23, 2020.
The new career center is meant to provide a one-stop hub for potential employees who want to work with independent companies, from customer service representatives to managers and every role in between. It will provide hands on training to students who are seeking a direct path from education to profession.
Zach Ward, Principal Architect and of Ward-Scott Architecture stated, “The Jackson County Innovation and Career Academy is a game-changing addition to the Alabama educational landscape. This state of the art facility will provide unparalleled opportunities for students in Northeast Alabama for generations to come and that is only possible through the vision, passion and leadership of the Jackson County Board of Education, pioneered by school superintendent Kevin Dukes. With exposed structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing components, the facility itself is an instructional tool intended to help illustrate practical uses of the various educational programs that it contains. In addition to the career technical scope of work, there is a 750 seat auditorium, as well as a fine arts wing that doubles as a FEMA-rated storm shelter designed to withstand winds in excess of 250 mph.”
“This is a great development by Jackson County Schools and it will do so much to help our community for generations to come. It shows great vision,” stated Dr. David Campbell, Chair of the EDA Board and President of Northeast Alabama Community College. “EDA Board members, Mrs. Shepard, Mr. Lee, and the college look forward to working with Jackson County Schools on this and will help anyway we can.”
Scottsboro City Schools Superintendent, Dr. J. Reyes stated, “I am pleased to be a part of the great things transpiring in Jackson County. The Innovation Center will provide wonderful opportunities not only for students in the Jackson County school system but for those students in Scottsboro City Schools as well. We have had a long-standing relationship as partners in creating career and technical opportunities at the EPCOT Center, and we look forward to this expansion of that relationship. I appreciate the efforts of Mr. Dukes and his staff and look forward to working with Mr. Dukes for many years to come. His leadership is an asset to our county, its schools and the students therein.”
For those who want to establish a career right out of high school, independent company partnerships offer a promising route. The organizations tend to operate without a strict corporate structure in place, meaning independents could offer career hopefuls room to learn more, take on additional responsibility and grow with the business. The Career Academy’s goal is to make recruitment and employee retention stronger for independent organizations with this new resource.
“We are excited for the opportunity this will offer for the future of Jackson County’s youth and also how it will offer a much-needed skilled workforce for our existing business and industry. We are proud to have had the opportunity to work with the Jackson County Board of Education to locate this center in the Jackson County Industrial Park.” Shelia Shepard, President/CEO, Jackson County EDA.