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Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) is part of an educational partnership that is providing Polk County high school students with a steady paycheck, technical and professional skills, college credit, and a certificate in manufacturing.

Project SUCCESS is a collaborative effort between GNTC, The HON Company, Great Promise Partnership (GPP), Polk County Schools, and the Polk County Chamber of Commerce. The collaboration provides students with work-based learning in manufacturing and course credit to give students a head start on their post-secondary education or career path.

“At HNI Corporation and The HON Company, part of our vision is to be a responsible corporate citizen and be a great place to work,” said Todd Murphy, vice president of manufacturing at HNI Corporation, The HON Company’s parent company. “We believe Project SUCCESS is a key part of this as we are able to provide our student members with meaningful learning opportunities, skills development, and mentoring while enhancing their understanding of career opportunities in manufacturing.”

Project SUCCESS was launched by GPP and is modeled on The Southwire Company’s successful 12 for Life program. GPP is a cooperative education nonprofit organization that works to increase the number of high school graduates in Georgia and to prepare students for their next post-secondary step whether it is college, the military, or work.

As part of Project SUCCESS, students attend a GNTC class at The HON Company in Cedartown, Monday through Thursday, from 3:15 to 3:50 p.m. and then work in manufacturing from 4 to 9 p.m. The students have a classroom and computer lab at The HON Company as well as a dedicated workspace where they assemble office furniture. They are also paid a competitive wage and held to the same standards as other employees at The HON Company.

“We are so excited to be able to provide these students the opportunity to learn about manufacturing as a viable means of earning a wage and providing for themselves after they graduate high school,” said April Welch, campus manager of GNTC’s Polk County Campus. “We’re equally excited about the college component where they will graduate with a Project SUCCESS Manufacturing certificate as a credential.”

Students apply for Project SUCCESS through the Polk School District College and Career Academy. They must be 16 years old, a junior in high school, go through an interview process, and score college ready on a placement test.

“The classes are approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) so the students are provided with all of the resources they need,” said Welch. “The HON Company revamped a portion of the building that they used for inventory into a classroom and the instructors are approved with SACS credentials, so there’s no difference in the service that they would receive if they were attending GNTC’s campus.”

The program takes two school years for students to complete and they begin the program in their junior year. Students take two classes their junior year, two classes their senior year, and then they graduate from high school with a certificate from GNTC. The credentials from the courses are transferable to any manufacturing program in the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).

“We have been very pleased with the progress made thus far and look forward to continuing to develop this program to benefit the students, the community, and our company,” said Murphy.

Great Promise Partnership is a collaboration of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Georgia 4-H, the University System of Georgia, the Technical College System of Georgia, local school districts, and Georgia employers.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College serves Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Murray, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield counties in Georgia with campuses located in Floyd, Gordon, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield counties. Approximately 16,000 people benefit from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs, making it the largest college in Northwest Georgia and the fourth largest technical college in Georgia.