by JON ANDERSON
April 1, 2019
The Hoover City Council voted to donate about 2 acres to Jefferson State Community College’s Shelby-Hoover campus so that Jeff State can expand its welding program to that campus.
The college wants to build a 5,000-square-foot welding building right next to the city of Hoover’s greenhouses that are adjacent to Jeff State’s health science building off Valleydale Road and Jaguar Drive, Jeff State President Keith Brown told the council tonight.
“The Shelby-Hoover campus is the only campus we have that has not been able to offer welding, and it’s time to change that,” Brown said.
58 Inc., an economic development group in Shelby County, determined that welding jobs are the second-highest jobs in demand in Shelby County, Brown said.
Jeff State’s welding program at its other campuses has grown from nine students to about 200 students in the past three years, he said.
The plan is to build 20 welding stations at the Shelby-Hoover campus to complement the 20 welding stations at the Jeff State campus in Center Point and the 15 welding stations at the St. Clair-Pell City campus, Brown said. “The demand is just too great.”
The college plans to hire a full-time welding instructor dedicated to the Shelby-Hoover campus, he said.
Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock said the county is committing $300,000 to $350,000 in workforce development funds toward the project because county officials see welding as a big need for Shelby County and the Birmingham-Hoover metro area as a whole.
Brown said the college already is talking with Hoover school officials about ways to partner with the welding program that is about to open at Hoover’s new Riverchase Career Connection Center so students can seamlessly transition from the high school program to the college program. There also could be opportunities for dual enrollment, he said.
An architect is working on drawings now to submit to the state building commission, and Jeff State wants to fast-track construction in hopes of getting the building completed by the end of this calendar year, Brown said. It probably will be summer 2020 before classes could begin there, he said.
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato said he thinks this is a great way for the city to partner with Jeff State and Shelby County to help meet a need in the community.
City Administrator Allan Rice said that Jeff State, in return for Hoover donating the land, has agreed to help with improvements to the parking lot and driveway for the city of Hoover’s greenhouses.
Part of the donated land contains a portion of the much-used cross-country trail at Veterans Park, but Jeff State is committed to making sure the trail remains maintained, just like it has with other portions of the trail on Jeff State property, Brown said.
Officials don’t expect the new building to impact the cross-country trail, but if it does, the college will simply relocate that small portion, Rice said. Officials also don’t believe the new building will impact the Hoover Police Department’s pre-employment physical fitness course that is on the 2 acres being donated, Rice said.