Rowan-Cabarrus Community College unveils tenants and training partners at Advanced Technology Center – Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS – When Rowan-Cabarrus Community College cut the ribbon for its Advanced Technology Center in late 2019, the goal was to fill the building with approximately 53,000 square feet of students and corporate training partners.

In a ceremony at ATC on Thursday morning, college leaders announced they had achieved that goal. The college revealed that Okuma America Corporation and RJG will each locate the training centers in an 8,000 square foot laboratory on the ground floor of the state-of-the-art building.

“The vision of this cutting-edge technology center has always been to help businesses and citizens compete and succeed in a global market by being at the forefront of technology and innovation,” said Craig Lamb , Vice President of Professional and Continuing Education at RCCC. “The partnerships announced today by RJG and Okuma are helping us realize this vision by providing world-class opportunities for employers in Rowan and Cabarrus counties. “

Okuma is a Charlotte-based international company that builds machine tools, controls and automation systems. The company is partnering with RCCC to create the Okuma Machine Tool Academy, which will provide technical training to its customers, distributors and employees. The company will install several of its flagship products at ATC, including a horizontal lathe and a vertical machining center.

“Everything that is manufactured, a machine tool is involved,” said Tim Thiessen, Okuma representative. “Whether it’s plastic, glass, flooring, etc., there is equipment that makes this or processes that and our machines are involved in every part. They are often called the “mother machine” because they are responsible for all of these things. “

Thiessen said the company is considering multiple partners for the training program, but the community college and TAC have risen to the top.

“There were four we limited ourselves to. Looking at these four, (RCCC) jumped off the page, ”Thiessen said. “They met all the criteria we had, but not only that, they explained what their vision was and what their strategy was behind each of them.”

The center will be Okuma’s primary training point for employees and customers in North, Central and South America.

From left to right, CRCC President Carol Spalding, CRCC Board Chairman Carl Short Jr., RJG Representative Marty Key, Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant and Cabarrus County Commission Chairman Steve Morris, pose with an RJG sign. Ben Stansell / Salisbury Post

Based in Traverse City, Michigan, RJG is an international company specializing in injection molding training, consulting and technology. Injection molding is used to create everything from toys to auto parts. The company operates training centers in China, Singapore, France, Germany, UK, and now Kannapolis.

“We had the opportunity to move to an amazing location in a brand new building and make it a showcase not only for us, but for RCCC,” said Shane Vandekerkhof, a representative from RJG who joined the ceremony by video call. “We couldn’t say no to the opportunity.”

Through its program at the Advanced Technology Center, RJG will provide its employees with the training necessary to obtain molding certifications. The company will rotate student employees at the institution over a two-week cycle. RJG will begin moving machines to its new space as of next week.

“We are impatient and ready to start this business,” said Vandekerkhof.

During their training at ATC, students from all over the world will stay in local hotels. In total, the two training programs are expected to contribute to more than 5,000 hotel nights per year.

Craig Lamb, vice president of business and continuing education at RCCC, explains how Okuma and RJG plan to train ATC employees and customers. Ben Stansell / Salisbury Post

Injecting thousands of visitors per year will be a major boon to the booming downtown Kannapolis.

“This city center is busy on weekends. It’s not as busy on a Tuesday night, but our people will be there all the time, ”Lamb said. “They will be in restaurants, stores. They will definitely go to the brewery. They will attend baseball games. It inspires many more people who will be there regularly. “

The Okuma and RJG training centers are expected to be fully operational by October. The companies have signed five-year agreements for the space and will have the option to renew once the initial term expires.

ATC is also home to labs and classrooms where community college students learn robotics, engineering, and advanced technology skills. The center owes its existence in part to voters in Cabarrus County, who in 2014 passed a referendum on bonds to support the establishment of the facility.

RCCC President Carol Spalding drew parallels between the 2014 Cabarrus County referendum and the $ 45 million referendum passed by Rowan County voters in March 2020, which provide the funding the community college needs to expand many of its programs and construct a complex of new buildings.

The project has been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will receive a $ 1 million cash injection in fiscal year 2021-2022 to pay architects’ fees. Construction is unlikely to begin before fiscal year 2022-23, when a property tax increase of about 3.5 cents per $ 100 of assessment will be required.

“I want to take this opportunity to recognize the leadership of Rowan County who is here today,” said Spalding. “Soon, their foresight in passing the Rowan-Cabarrus bond issue of $ 45 million in 2020 will translate into an innovative and high-tech strategic industrial partnership and the development of the local workforce along the corridor. I-85 for decades to come. “


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Milton S. Rodgers

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