Branch: Atmore to be tech hub

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Faulkner State Community College President Gary Branch said last Wednesday that his vision for the Atmore campus once JDCC completes its merger is for the campus to be one of the technological hubs in the north Baldwin County area.

Branch addressed a small crowd of business leaders, state legislature and manufacturing representatives after a presentation was given on the local training opportunities that are available for the industrial environments in the area.

“My goal is to build a center for technological and manufacturing excellence on the Atmore campus,” Branch said. “I see this center providing quality technological education to people of the north Baldwin (County) area.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

At present, the Atmore campus offers accounting technology, air conditioning and refrigeration, automotive body repair and welding technology programs.

While Branch is the current president of FSCC, which has campuses in Fairhope, Gulf Shores and Bay Minette, he’ll also take over as the president after FSCC and JDCC merge.

Talks of the merger have been in the works since last November, when the board approved a resolution to begin the planning phase of a JDCC and Faulkner State merger, and to notify the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS) of its decision.

In December, a vote was taken to expand the proposed merger/consolidation to include Reid State and Alabama Southern community colleges.

“By placing all four institutions in the mix, the benefits to be derived – chiefly economic and educational ones – will be magnified with all of us located in one region,” JDCC Interim President Dr. William “Bill” Blow said previously.

Branch said the advantages of the merger are that it will save tax-payer dollars and no campuses will be closed.

For the Atmore campus, Branch said he addressed the Poarch Creek Indians Tribal Council and asked for a significant amount of money to get the center up and running, adding that the current facility has deplorable conditions to work in.

During the question-answer portion, Branch was asked about the school’s leadership. The 36-year president said there would be administrators on each campus with him serving as president.

“I did not accept this responsibility to cut people’s jobs or close campuses,” Branch said. “I accepted this to grow sites and enhance campuses to provide education to those citizens who serve their communities.”

Branch said the goal is to have a new name of the college, which will be determined by the community and students, this fall.

“I want to do everything with your help to make the Atmore campus a shining start in technological development,” he said.