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Governor makes predictions

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Campus Dean Mignonne Ater, Louisiana Community and Technical College System President Dr. Joe D. May, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Central Louisiana Technical College Regional Director Mervin Birdwell toss shovels of dirt during the ground breaking for expansion of the Shelby M. Jackson campus in Ferriday.

FERRIDAY — Gov. Bobby Jindal does not shy away from bold predictions, especially when it comes to Louisiana sports and the Louisiana economy.

So when Jindal spoke to the crowd at a Monday afternoon ground breaking on the campus of the Shelby M. Jackson campus of Louisiana Technical College and predicted a national championship, a Super Bowl appearance and the rise of the Louisiana workforce in 2011, few should have been surprised.

LSU and the New Orleans Saints were at the heart of his first two predictions, but Jindal said his third prediction probably was the most important.

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Programs for the ground breaking featured a rendering of the campus expansion.

“Thanks to schools like the Shelby M. Jackson campus, Louisiana is going to be better than the entire region in 2011 when it comes to providing skilled workers,” Jindal said.

Such a prediction is not so bold, Jindal said.

“We are the most improved state in the entire U.S. economy,” Jindal said. “One reason is our ability to provide the best skilled and most productive workers in the country.”

The Shelby M. Jackson campus and all of the others state technical colleges are greatly responsible for this, he said.

Jindal joined educational leaders to official break ground on the $5.2 million Shelby M. Jackson project that will include an 11,500-square-foot addition to the nursing school in the campus’ main building and renovations to the existing 10,900 square feet of the building.

“It is a great day for Ferriday, for Concordia Parish, for the entire state,” he said. “This (ground breaking) is an important step toward educating our people and growing our economy.”

The renovations to the campus are a part of Act 391 facilities project that was passed during the 2007 legislative session that is providing 23 projects for 14 community and technical colleges in the state, totaling $173.7 million.

“The campus building renovations and addition is not going to greatly change what we do or how we do it,” Dean Mignonne Ater said.

“What it is going to do is allow us to do it better and be perceived and judged by others in a new and more positive light.”

Current student Katherine Denver Fuller will be done with her studies before work on the building is complete, but is still proud of her school.

“We wish we were in the new building now, but we know that the building will improve the reputation of the school and help increase attendance rates,” Fuller said. “It will only help our school improve on the top-rate education they already provide.”

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