Area supes tour Communiversity

Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer listens to the explanations on a tour of the Communiversity Friday. Supervisors from counties served by EMCC attended. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

Supervisors across the East Mississippi Community College service area got a chance to see what the funds they put forth were going toward Friday.

A group including several county supervisors and other officials toured the $42 million Communiversity, or Center for Manufacturing Technology Excellence (CMTE) 2.0 facility under construction along Highway 82 just west of the PACCAR plant. Upon its completion in winter 2019, the facility will house EMCC’s manufacturing technology programs and serve as a hub for local industry. It will also contain a large showroom called the “imagination center” and contain an incubator facility to offer industry a soft landing until larger facilities are complete.

Much of the training will take place in the 21 high bays across the back of the facility. Programs having dedicated space in the bays will include automation and control, electrical, electro-mechanical, engineering technology, drafting and design, mechatronics and precision manufacturing and machining, among others. The facility will total 145,638 square feet.

“When this place is lit up and you drive by on the highway, you will see what’s inside,” said project architect Mike Taylor from the Pryor-Morrow firm. “It’s going to look like it’s in a little glass case. It looks really nice.” East Mississippi Community College Vice President of Workforce and Community Services Raj Shaunak said the exhibits in the imagination center would serve to inspire young people and open their eyes to manufacturing careers. He said certain specialties could offer substantial salaries with little to no debt incurred.

“Those kids who play those video games and all that, we want them to learn to develop those and use those to develop new unmanned aircraft, new helicopters, new things that we don’t even know about,” Shaunak said.

Shaunak also spoke to the entrepreneurial side of the facility.

“If someone starts a new company, there will be a place like this on the other side of the facility available for the soft landing of a company while they build their facility to begin the production of their product,” Shaunak said.

Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer said he was impressed with the facility following the tour.

“I’m glad to see this campus and this administration being as aggressive and as active as it is,” Trainer said. “I’m looking at the fruits of the labor of the citizens not only in Oktibbeha County, but in all the surrounding counties, too, because all of us invest with our tax dollars into this facility. It would be just a shame for citizens not to take advantage of this great opportunity that’s offered out at EMCC.”

Trainer also said he was proud to be a part of the board supporting the efforts.

“The biggest opportunity that we have is that we have access to a first-class facility that offers first-class training and teaching for students,” Trainer said.

Clay County District 4 Supervisor Shelton Deanes said he was glad to see the opportunities the facility will offer.

“This right here, this came true from some things that I’ve dreamed about and prayed about and what have you,” Deanes said. “I’m thankful. Today I thank God for it.”

Deanes showed particular interest in the facility’s incubator, saying he had discussed the idea with Golden Triangle LINK Chairman and CEO Joe Max Higgins previously.

“This will be something that’ll make Clay County and some people in Clay County a whole lot better,” Deanes said. “We’ve got a lot of kids that need jobs and don’t have them. They’re not educated. We’ve got a lot that don’t finish high school and want to get their GED. This is gong to be a program that’ll be able to help them.”

Funding for the project came from $18 million in bonds from the state of Mississippi, $10 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $13.5 million from the three Golden Triangle counties.