With education cited in this past year as possibly being a key to help improve Bartow’s economy, the opening of the Advanced Technology Center this week could be something that could work toward that end.
Polk State College’s Corporate College opened for classes this week at Clear Springs off State Road 60. It was built with $14.5 million mostly coming from donations on 20 acres just east of Bartow and its focus is applied technology. It’s a new kind of education where private businesses help the school develop programs and teach students with real situations and train them for the manufacturing world.
At a grand opening and ribbon cutting Wednesday PSC President Eileen Holden said, “It’s a great day to be in Bartow.”
Adding to that, the Chairman of the District Board of Trustees Linda Pilkington said, “This is not only beneficial to Polk State College but to Bartow and Polk County. This is a state of the art training facility with state of the art technology.”
While the focus of the Advanced Technology Center is not aimed to get Polk County secondary students to stay in Polk County but brings people from around the world just outside Bartow.
“It is definitely a jewel in not only Polk’s crown but Bartow’s as well. The innovation and vision is to be applauded and I hope we can continue the trend to propel us into the future,” said Trish Pfeiffer who has worked to help the improve the town’s economy.
In fact so impressed with what is being offered at the new school, Pfeiffer said she is going to look into what is at PSC.
“I’m so excited at what I see, I want to know if there’s anything (class) I could take,” she said.
During the grand opening Wednesday tours for those who attended – and there were about 300 – went through the campus to see the classrooms which looked more like business offices and technology floors one may see in a business.
There is a process training unit, a supply chain management laboratory and classroom, a working warehouse and an emerging technologies laboratory all with brand new equipment.
The school is the 147th school like this in the nation and the third in Florida, said Director Rob Clancey.
“There will be students coming to Bartow and executives that will give a name to us and Clear Springs,” said Jim DeGennaro, the community development manager for Polk County. “It’s a boon to Bartow.”
Clancey said there are 7,200 students who will attend school at the Clear Springs campus this year. Of course, he hopes the number will grow, but right now the center is 47,000 square feet and there are plans for another 40,000-square foot building but the state legislature has to OK the money for that.
Bartow Mayor James Clements hopes the state sees a way to OK that money and help out the school. But in the meantime this means just it opening can only help Bartow, he said.
“It brings more people, more students, teachers, staff,” he said.
“There are numerous advantages for the Advanced Technology Center in relation to a city like Bartow,” DeGennaro said. “There are going to be professors, executives from throughout the country to visit here to help their companies and they’ll be staying at Bartow hotels, using the restaurants and our services.”