The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

June 12, 2014

Robotics Technology Park enters third phase

— Officials across the state believe the Robotics Technology Park expansion in Tanner will give the state another advantage when it comes to industrial recruitment.

Gov. Robert Bentley announced Wednesday the approval of $6 million needed to construct a third building at the park, which is located on U.S. 31 across from Calhoun Community College. The building is expected to cost $9 million to both build and equip, according to park project manager Rick Maroney.

Alabama Industrial Development Training, the state workforce training agency that runs the park, received $3 million of the construction cost last year from a state bond issue.

The remaining $6 million, from another state bond issue, was released Wednesday by the Alabama Incentives Financing Authority, which is led by Bentley.

“The Alabama Robotic Technology Park is one of the biggest assets we can have for companies,” Bentley said in a press release. “The park allows us to provide an opportunity for a technically trained, highly skilled and educated workforce for jobs in Alabama. The Robotic Technology Park is an opportunity that can help companies be successful in Alabama.”

The building, which could be open in about a year, is planned at 50,000 square feet and will be designed to allow employees of a number of companies to train on new equipment and software, according to the governor’s office. It’s designed so employees can test — ahead of time — how new products will work together.

The newest addition will include an area for robot training and manual spraying to paint vehicle parts and other products. 

“We’ll be able to provide everything in the robotic area,” Maroney told News Courier news partner WAFF 48.“A company can come in and set up an automated line, get all the bugs out of it, bring their personnel in, train them, take it from our facility and put it into their plant. They lose no production time, which is huge for a company.”

Employees from companies across the state as well as students use the park to train and attend classes, which include safety, maintenance, welding or operating robots and programmable controllers.

State leaders said Wednesday the park has already made thousands of jobs possible.

Maroney said about 75 employees from companies such as Honda, Navistar and Toyota use the park for training in the typical month.

A company must have a plant in Alabama to send employees to the park. The park does not charge for training and most classes offer 40 hours.

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