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Center will train workers for better jobs

This could change Demopolis forever &045;&045; more jobs, better educated people, a higher volume of traffic. Everything could change.

The city of Demopolis has received a $1.245 million grant to build a state of the art interactive higher education and job training center. The center will be placed on 30-acre plot of land near the Parks and Recreation fields off Hwy. 43 South.

Though the project has just moved past its conceptual stage, the new center will be used to train the existing workforce and help those who are unemployed receive training for new jobs. The center also will serve much like a junior college.

Kathy Leverett, director of the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t believe the news on Tuesday.

While money doesn’t grow from trees in these parts, the money for this project has grown from the Mississippi Delta.

More than a year ago, Shelby strong-armed U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., to include certain regions of Alabama into a new federal program called the Delta Regional Authority. That authority, charged with helping counties improve basic infrastructure and economic development growth, has received millions from the federal government to assist places like Marengo County.

One of the greatest resources for this center will be the preparation of workers who already live in Demopolis and Marengo County.

According to Leverett, this isn’t just an opportunity.

Obviously, one of the key players in getting the money for the project has been Gov. Don Siegelman. In an interview with The Times on Tuesday, Siegelman said this project will continue moving progress "further and further West in Alabama."

More importantly, the new center will help the governor recruit more industries to this area.

The center, according to both Shelby and Siegelman, won’t be just for the people of Demopolis.

And what’s best about an announcement like this is the hope it gives people in this part of the state.

Details of the project will be released as more information is provided about the center and its specific uses.

One person who has watched the development is Chuck Smith, who works at Gulf States in Demopolis.

According to Smith, a person in Demopolis will be able to enroll in interactive courses at any university and take the class from Demopolis.

Some plans have already been drawn for the new center. It is unclear when a ground-breaking ceremony will be held or when the actual funding will be presented in Demopolis.