Starting next fall, people living in Whitfield and Murray counties will have access to new and expanded technical education programs through Georgia Northwestern Technical College, in addition to those programs currently offered by Dalton State College. According to an agreement between the University System of Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) will expand its service delivery area into Whitfield and Murray counties beginning with the fall semester 2011. GNTC is currently exploring options for a facility in Whitfield County and could also offer classes in Murray County in the near future. GNTC’s expansion will add some programs that are not offered by Dalton State College, which also has a technical division. Initially, GNTC will offer training in industrial systems technology, computer information systems, management and supervisory development, technical communications and fire sciences programs. Additional programs may be added as the demand for enrollment grows. TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson and USG Chancellor Erroll Davis have been working with Georgia Northwestern Technical College President Craig McDaniel, Dalton State College President John Schwenn, and area business and civic leaders to complete the agreement. Commissioner Jackson stated that serving the workforce needs of local business and industry by creating new training opportunities was an important part of the decision to bring GNTC into the area. “I’m very grateful to the local leaders and members of the business community who expressed their strong support for bringing Georgia Northwestern Technical College to Whitfield and Murray counties,” said Jackson. “Students will enjoy greater access to more technical college programs that are certain to lead to in-demand careers and build the kind of workforce that helps companies grow and prosper. And now, the area will be blessed with the outstanding education resources of both Dalton State College and Georgia Northwestern Technical College.” Chancellor Davis agreed with Jackson about the importance of the agreement. “Local area residents will enjoy expanded access to technical programs through GNTC and to a more robust array of bachelor’s degree programs through Dalton State College. This is a win-win for both the Technical College System and the University System and another sign of the strong partnership between the state’s two postsecondary agencies in the effort to meet Georgia’s higher education and economic development needs.” “It is gratifying that the business and government leaders in Murray and Whitfield counties have expressed their support and commitment to Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s move into the two communities,” said Dr. Craig McDaniel, president of GNTC. “Our staff and faculty will be listening and responding to the employment and training needs of the businesses and industries throughout the area.” “Dalton State College looks forward to the opportunity to work closely with GNTC in meeting the economic development goals of our region,” said Dr. John Schwenn, president of Dalton State College. “In addition, with our entry into student housing and an expanded number of bachelor’s degree programs, we think Dalton State College will attract more students from all across Georgia to come to one of the most beautiful parts of the state to study. This agreement positions Dalton State College well for the future.” Local government and business officials praised the positive impact that the additional higher learning opportunities would bring to the area. “Dalton is one of the leading manufacturing communities in the country,” commented David Pennington, mayor of Dalton. “In order to remain a leader we will have to continue to invest in capital intensive industries with a technically trained workforce to operate high tech equipment. This agreement to bring Georgia Northwestern Technical College into our community, as a complement to Dalton State College, will help us remain a leader in manufacturing.” “As we continue to try to create jobs coming out of this economic recession, the ability to re-train workers and get them the skill sets for the jobs of tomorrow will be critical for the state of Georgia,” said Brian Anderson, president and CEO of the Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce. “Georgia Northwestern Technical College will train displaced workers as well as new workers with the skills necessary for today’s economy. We look forward to partnering with GNTC and the TCSG as they enable people to utilize their current abilities and new skills to enter careers that lead to a better future. We also look forward to the expanded academic programs at Dalton State College and the contribution they will make to raising the educational level of our entire region.” Executives from Shaw Industries and Mohawk Industries also spoke of the education benefits to the area. “Advanced manufacturing continues to serve as the foundation for the northwest Georgia economy. While the region seeks to diversify its base, the manufacturing heritage of our communities will always remain our number one strength, allowing current employers to expand and other world-class companies to be recruited to the area,” said David Morgan, vice president of manufacturing for Shaw Industries Group, Inc. “The expansion of the Georgia Northwestern Technical College service area will enable the current and future workforce to develop the highly technical skills necessary to succeed within the flooring industry or in many other manufacturing fields. Businesses and the community at large always win when higher education is easy to access. With both Dalton State College and GNTC, this access will be very easy.” “High quality education is an absolutely essential component for a thriving, growing community and its economy. This has long been recognized in Murray and Whitfield Counties and our community leadership – government, industry, economic development, small and large business, and others – has a great tradition of supporting all levels of the education process,” stated Joe Yarbrough, executive vice president of operations at Mohawk Industries, Inc. “For more than a decade, however, access to a wide range of technical career education opportunities have been lacking in our communities. Georgia Northwestern Technical College has demonstrated that it has the ability to respond quickly to the needs of the business community. GNTC is the entity that has proven its ability to offer the educational programs needed to develop the skills required to fill the gaps. I certainly speak for Mohawk Industries and many others in our community when I say that we sincerely welcome the addition of GNTC to serve these needs in our area.” Georgia Northwestern Technical College is fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The college currently serves Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Polk, and Walker counties with a main campus in Rome and additional locations in Calhoun, Rock Spring and Rockmart. Last year, almost 9,800 students enrolled in the college’s certificate, degree, and diploma programs, and an additional 13,500 students took part in adult education, continuing education, and workforce training programs. Dalton State College is fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a bachelor’s degree granting institution. The college currently enrolls 6,000 students in certificate, associate degree, and bachelor’s degree programs. The main campus is in Dalton, with an additional location in Ellijay.