Local and state leaders will converge in Hollywood Friday to break ground on a new career center leaders are calling the first of its kind in Alabama.

The Innovation and Career Academy will break ground at the Jackson County Industrial Park, located off Highway 72 in Hollywood, beginning at 10 a.m. Friday.

Gov. Kay Ivey, Congressman Mo Brooks and Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth will join local leaders during the groundbreaking.

The Jackson County School System is partnering with the Jackson County Economic Development Authority (EDA) to bring the career center to the county. The total cost of the project is over $29 million.

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.

“This is a great development by Jackson County schools, and it will do so much to help our community for generations to come,” said Dr. David Campbell, chairman of the EDA Board and president of Northeast Alabama Community College. “it shows great vision. The EDA and college look forward to working with Jackson County schools on this and will help any way we can.”

Jackson County Superintendent Kevin Dukes said the career center will put local students on a level playing field with other systems.

“The idea started with a conversation between our supervisors and myself,” said Dukes. “We were discussing career tech and workforce development. We decided that we needed to do something that would be a game changer for Jackson County.”

Shelia Shepard, president and CEO of the Jackson County EDA, said 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,” said Shepard. “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.”

In addition to Ivey, Brooks and Ainsworth, State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey, State Sen. Steve Livingston, Ed Castille, director of AIDT and Zach Ward of Ward-Scott Architecture are expected to speak.

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