A construction site now sprawling across 25 acres will help energize employment when it succeeds a former location as the Atlanta Job Corps center, according to a South Fulton official.

“The new job corps center will serve as an economic development engine for the city of South Fulton,” City Councilwoman Helen Z. Willis said. “By providing job training, the young adults who choose not to take the traditional educational route have an opportunity to obtain a professional trade that will financially help them have a better quality of life.”

The nearly $60 million campus on Washington Road at Roosevelt Highway will be in Willis’ District 3, but its benefits will radiate outward, she said.

It will draw attendees from surrounding areas upon completion in late 2019 or early 2020, joining the other Georgia Job Corps centers in Albany and Brunswick.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Corps website, the program is the largest free residential education and job training program for young adults age 16 to 24.

Job Corps National Director Lenita Jacobs-Simmons attended a recent community meeting on the replacement center, as did Willis, South Fulton Mayor William “Bill” Edwards and U.S. District 13 Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta.

But she has been a fan of the program since at least 2014, when she became its leader.

“If I can tell you one thing about Job Corps, it's this—the program gives you options,” Jacobs-Simmons posted on her Facebook page. “If you can bring the work ethic, desire and commitment, we will show you a path forward. Our logo has a ladder for a reason. This is the way up.”

The Job Corps website lists perks for enrollees, like free room and board, clothing, a living allowance, health care, child care, books and supplies.

They must meet income eligibility requirements, such as receiving public assistance, incomes below poverty level or homelessness.

Most students at the 120 Job Corps centers nationwide stay at least 18 months, but range between eight months to two years to complete training in more than 80 career paths.

Options include earning high school diplomas, driver’s education, English as a second language and on-the-job training.

After graduation, students can begin careers, continue their education at a higher level or join the military, the website stated.

Earning potential can be three times the minimum wage, or more.

Alumni support can include transportation and child care.

The federally funded program started in 1964 as part of the Economic Opportunity Act, the website stated, to help young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds.

About 60,000 youths participate annually, with two million workers trained in 50 years.

Corporations, like website testimonial writers Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse and Walgreens, and smaller companies benefit as well.

“Having skilled, trained workers will be an asset to businesses because you will have better-trained employees, which save money and time for new businesses,” Willis said. “On-the-job training can be very expensive and this center will help decrease the cost business owners have to spend.”

The program’s website said businesses can gain experienced, ready-to-work employees for entry-level positions and increase productivity.

The program has an 82 percent success rate, the website stated.

Handouts from the meeting echoed Willis’ prediction.

As outlined in the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the Job Corps program is designed to “match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.”

Even before graduates matriculate, small businesses can benefit through providing services to the center.

“Based on recent information, this center will be one of the top employment centers in the municipality,” the handout stated.

The previous Atlanta center on West Lake Avenue had about 475 students and 140 staff members until its 2017 closure; the replacement center will have a similar capacity.

The handout also stated the construction plan is for 11 buildings, including two dormitories, a cafeteria, a gym, a child care center, welcome center and administration building.

Construction is about 20 percent complete, it stated.

The contractor is a joint venture between 4K Global and ACC JV LLC of Augusta.

The design is by The Architects Group of Mobile, Alabama.

Information: www.jobcorps.gov

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