Our opinion: It really does take a village

Published 2:28 pm Saturday, December 8, 2018

With Thursday’s announcement that the Sumter County partnership was chosen as one of four in the state to receive a $3.11 million grant for the Ignite College and Career Academy, a proverbial shout of elation could be heard.
The Governor’s announcement was the culmination of three years of hard work and commitment by the group of local business and industry leaders working with Sumter County Schools, South Georgia Technical College, and Georgia Southwestern State University. First initiated in 2017, with a financial partnership between Sumter County Schools, South Georgia Tech, and the One Sumter Economic Development Foundation, the impetus gained momentum as more than 150 community members from across Sumter County worked tirelessly at over 200 planning meetings, investing almost 200,000 volunteer hours, and sparking the interest of the entire community at the possibilities.
The Ignite College and Career Academy will offer innovation in education and learning, in partnership with local companies who have pledged to offer invaluable training for students who can literally step into local jobs following the completion of their workforce-centered training. The sky is the limit for economic growth in Sumter County through this academy as a trained and ready workforce will attract more business and industry to the area. This partnership represents more than 100 business and industry leaders, parents, and individuals committed to giving an additional $8.4 million in cash and in-kind contributions, supporting Ignite with internships, apprenticeships, teacher externships, mentoring, and other investments to support Ignite’s students. That is what a grassroots effort is supposed to be, and it clearly demonstrates what the community can accomplish when we work together to achieve unified goals.
We applaud those who worked so hard to get the job done as it was no small undertaking. The $3.11 million grant is matched by the $2 million raised through the One Sumter Foundation’s donors. The return on this investment will make all the difference in the success of our community in the future. We believe this is the launching pad for excellence, and the answer to a dream come true that will ensure economic development in Sumter County as well as the region for years to come. It is evidence of the forward-thinking, visionary leadership we have here, and the willingness of local citizens to roll up their sleeves and get to work to achieve a goal.
Congratulations to all those who were involved. We support your efforts and look forward to the future!