More than 100 people attended the dedication ceremony and open house for the newly renovated John E. Forte Building on Richmond Community College’s main campus in Hamlet.
“Fourteen months ago, we gathered here to break ground on this project and today we dedicate the finished building to all who made it possible,” said G.R. Kindly, co-chair of the Forte Expansion Capital Campaign and past president of the RCC Foundation. “Looking at the partnerships we built to accomplish this project proves what we can do when we have team work and a common goal.”
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Forte Building was held Dec. 13, 2012, marking the completion of a capital campaign that locally raised more than $366,000 and putting the wheels in motion on a nearly $3.5 million project.
“This is a something I’ve longed to see at Richmond Community College, and that’s a modern, technical facility that can train skilled workers for the 21st Century as we bring in new industry,” said Thad Ussery, RCC Foundation director and co-chair of the Forte Expansion Capital Campaign. “Manufacturing is coming back to the United States, and it’s going to be different. We’re going to be dealing with modern, computer-aided machinery, but we still need humans to run them. I’m so pleased to see this modern facility that will be able to train skilled workers for the future.”
Home of the Joseph J. Prischak Center for Engineering Technology, the expanded and renovated Forte Building provides much needed classroom and lab space for the College’s engineering, energy and technical programs. The need for skilled technicians in the local workforce fueled the growth of the facility and technical programs offered by the College.
Richmond County Board of Commissioner Chair Kenneth Robinette thanked the many people who supported the project and for recognizing that education is the key for rural communities such as Richmond and Scotland counties to attract and retain industry. Besides meeting industrial needs, a well-educated skilled workforce is also needed to work in restaurants and operate other small businesses that improve the overall quality of life for the community, Robinette said.
“Programs like Electric Utility Substation and Relay Technology, Computer-Integrated Machine Technology, Mechanical Engineering, HVAC, there’s a need for these specific skills to fill jobs. These program would not be possible without this facility,” he said.
The Forte Building expansion project was funded on grants and local donations. The Cole Foundation and the Richmond Community College Foundation provided competitive grant awards totaling $90,000; the U.S Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration provided $2,038,000; and the Golden Leaf Foundation provided $500,000 that served as a foundation for the entire campaign.
The Golden Leaf Foundation recently presented an additional $474,000 to the College to fund equipment for the training facility.
“We are proud to be a part of this investment in this community,” said Dan Gerlach of the Golden Leaf Foundation. “You’ve done a great job with our money, and we love to report on Richmond County’s success.”
RCC Foundation President Patrick Chappell spoke on behalf of the Foundation Board of Directors in thanking the many supporters who invested in the expansion project and asked for continued support of the College.
“The expansion and renovation of the Forte Building is another remarkable milestone on our journey to provide an outstanding college experience at the local level,” Chappell said. “I encourage you to continue what we have started here. Give to annual campaigns to support fundraising projects and events; establish a scholarship that could help a deserving student stay in class in this beautiful new facility; spread the news of new academic programs to someone you know who might be able to take advantage of this; or take a friend to see a show or attend an event at the Cole Auditorium.”
General Manager of Plastek’s Hamlet manufacturing division Steve Ulrich and other Plastek employees attended the ceremony on behalf of Joseph Prischak, who gave generously to the expansion project. Prischak made the lead donation that paved the way for the Forte Building to be renovated.
Dr. Dale McInnis, president of RCC, remarked on the success of the project in a relatively short time frame due to the team work and collaboration of a number key players, including the Board of Trustees, the RCC Foundation, state and federal agencies, and college faculty and staff.
“This is the start of more things that we can achieve together, and we will build on this success,” McInnis said. “I’m looking forward to the next challenge this college can help make happen to improve the quality of life for every citizen in Scotland and Richmond County. This facility is a tool for everyone to use. We need to challenge our students and our children to take advantage of these programs and of the great careers offered at RCC.”
After the dedication ceremony, people toured the Forte Building to see the start-of-the-art training equipment, classrooms and labs housed in the new facility.