Pearl River Community College on Tuesday broke ground on the Phil Bryant Aviation and Aerospace Academy, which will be located at the Stennis International Airport in Hancock County.
The construction is made possible by a $2 million grant from the Department of Economic Development Administration. It will be matched with more than "$3.9 million in state and local investments and is expected to help create 469 jobs, retain 550 jobs, and generate $5 million in private investments," a release from PRCC states.
"The opportunity to gather here today is a testament to this community," PRCC President Adam Breerwood said. "A testament to the cooperation and support from many difference individuals and governmental agencies. We're grateful for the hard work and commitment to this project and look forward to the numerous opportunities that it will bring to the region."
Mississippi Develop-ment Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough introduced Gov. Phil Bryant.
"Wernher von Braun, who was chosen to help run the space program, famously said 'Man will go to the Moon one day and return safely to Earth, but he's going to have to pass through Hancock County to get there," Bryant said. "Today, Dr. Breerwood, we continue that mission, now back to the Moon and on to Mars.
And man will again have to pass through Hancock County, or woman will have to pass through Hancock County to get to Mars. Our NASA Space Center here at Stennis will help lead the world in the universe into the great outer space."
The United States won the space race, he said.
"We continue to lead today," he said. "We do so because of this facility here. Because a man named John C. Stennis had the vision to build it here in Mississippi."
Bryant said he was honored to have the building bear his name.
"There are so many others whose name should be emblazoned on this and the wonderful Fred Haise come to mind," Bryant said.
Bryant said that one of the things he wanted to do during his tenure as governor was to "revitalize the space industry in Mississippi, to make NASA great again."
"I had a lot of help doing that and it started with the president of the United States," Bryant said. "It will again begin here with PRCC on this site. We will go on into the future. Generations, as they get accustomed to going back and forth into space, as those new facilities will be built on the Moon that will allow us to stop there before going on to Mars and further places across the universe. Think about the young men and women that will be working on the Moon and saying 'where did you learn this trade, where were you trained?' 'Oh well, PRCC in Hancock County.' And another one is going to say, 'Oh I went there as well just a few years before you graduated and here are we now working on the Moon together.' It's going to happen."
Breerwood said that PRCC's core principles are "pride, respect, class, and character."
"And everything that's associated with our college is centered around this ideology," he said. "The charge that is embraced by our faculty and staff is really somewhat simple at the end of the day, is change the lives of those we serve. Our goal is to always remain affordable, accessible, and –– at the end of the day –– provide life changing opportunities for our students.
Breerwood said PRCC is "honored to recognize our Gov. Phil Bryant with his name forever being bestowed on this facility."
"The Phil Bryant Aviation and Aerospace Academy will be a staple in Hancock County for generations to come," he said. "As Gov. Bryant emulates our core principles at Pearl River, pride, respect, class, and has unwavering character. His legacy will forever be cemented in the history of our great institution, PRCC."
The academy is expected to be 25,000 square feet and feature "eight classrooms, five labs, lobby with reception area, faculty and staff offices, break room/kitchenette for staff, indoor sitting/vending area for students, and an outdoor courtyard sitting area," the release states.
The hangar, which is estimated to be 18,000 square feet, will feature "two classrooms with labs, open hangar area with hands-on lab stations, outdoor covered area for equipment training, lobby with reception area, faculty and staff offices, break room/kitchenette for staff, and a small vending area for students," the release states.
According to the release, the hangar will offer Airframe and Propulsion Technology, Unmanned Aerial Systems, and Precision Manufacturing.
The academy will offer the following programs: "Instrumentation, Industrial Electronics Technology, Practical Nursing, Welding and Cutting Technology, Computer Aided Design and Drafting, Business Management Technology, Academic Courses, Workforce Programs, and Adult Education/GED," the release states.
The new programs that will be offered at the Hancock location include: "Instrumentation, Airframe and Propulsion Technology, Industrial Electronics Technology, Precision Manufacturing, Computer Aided Design and Drafting, and Business Management Technology," the release states.
"The Aviation Maintenance Technology program is an instructional program that prepares individuals to inspect, repair, service, and overhaul aircraft engine components and systems," the release states. "This program is designed to prepare the student for the Federal Aviation Administration exams for certification as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician. Industry standards referenced are from the Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 147, and Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools (Airframes and Power Plants).
According to the release, the hangar's estimated completion date is Dec. 31, 2020 and the academy by Dec. 31 in 2021.