The South Baldwin Regional Workforce Development Authority (SBRWDA) has been busy doing its due diligence to move the workforce campus concept forward. Recently, the authority applied to the Baldwin County Commission for $300,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to pay for an economic impact study and the development of a master plan designed by Volkert Engineering for the proposed site on the Foley Beach Express. The authority has retained Professional Research Services, Dr. Kevian Deravi to complete the economic impact study by the end of November. The results of the study will be included in the proposal that Senator Chris Elliott will be making to the state legislator for the next round of ARPA funding to support the site development. Once the impact study is complete and the SBRWDA receives cost estimates, a business plan will be developed along with a project timeline.
Numerous meetings have been held to discuss the application for funds from the upcoming Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) intended to aid in the recovery in Baldwin County from hurricane Sally. “The County and City of Foley officials are welcoming a proposal for the use of CDBG funds for the site development, ''said Ed Bushaw, Executive Director of the Authority. “Early discussions look favorable for eligibility for land improvements, infrastructure, and possibly a business incubator. We are hopeful that if we meet eligibility standards the County will seriously consider our proposal. They see a very clear relationship between investing in this site to enhance our workforce and the return it will bring to the city and the county as well as the state.”
Authority officials meet regularly with the ad hoc education committee made up of administrators and faculty from the University of South Alabama, Coastal Alabama Community College, Columbia Southern University, and Auburn University’s Technical Assistance Center. The colleges are poised to bring academic programs in Hospitality & Tourism, Early Childhood Development / Teacher Education, Allied Health, and Professional Development training to the Education Center of the proposed site.