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Job Corps campus near Tropicana Field will train at-risk students, create 100 jobs

Some 300 students will use these four buildings to learn vocational skills in trades like plumbing, automotive, electrical and carpentry.

Kirk Bell | Special to the Times

Some 300 students will use these four buildings to learn vocational skills in trades like plumbing, automotive, electrical and carpentry.

ST. PETERSBURG

Construction of the new Job Corps campus will be complete in October.

The 16-acre site, in the Dome Industrial Park near Tropicana Field, began construction early last year.

The campus will not only serve as a training facility for students ages 16 to 24, it will also provide about 100 employment opportunities for job seekers in the area.

Architects from Renker Eich Parks, the firm that designed and built the facility, are proud of the results. The site was built from the ground up and was designed to meet standard green requirements.

The firm used recycled products in the construction process, installed tankless water heaters, and saved most of the site's existing trees.

"It will have good energy performance," Paul Palmer, an architect with Renker Eich Parks, said. He said they also installed sensor low-energy lighting and highly insulated walls for better energy conservation.

The Job Corps campus is in the industrial heart of historic St. Petersburg.

"It was seen as an undesirable area. They encouraged people to use it," said Harmon Haley, an architect with the firm.

"We pursued the Job Corps," said Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis, a strong supporter of the project.

Job Corps training is possibly a last chance for dropouts and other need-based students looking to gain education and experience to compete in the working world.

Students can earn high school diplomas through the program.

The Job Corps will offer training in culinary arts, automotive skills, computer skills, nursing, plumbing, electrical and carpentry. There is room for 300 students to stay in the dormitories. Dental and health services will be available for enrolled students.

Haley said they tried to design the facility to accommodate the dorm students.

"They can't leave the campus at night," he said.

So the living space includes a learning center, a gym and a pool hall.

Architects designed the buildings to bring in north lighting. "In Florida you don't want to be in southern lighting; it gets hot," Haley said. "We arranged the classrooms to catch natural light as best we could."

The construction cost of the 166,000-square-foot site exceeded $30 million, but the money may prove to be well invested.

Davis said the completion rate for Job Corps participants is high, and the skills provide an option for those who otherwise might be left behind.

"People are looking for opportunities," he said.

"From the federal level to the state level to the city level, Job Corps provides opportunities."

Jo-Lynn Brown is a reporter for the Neighborhood News Bureau, a program of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

$30M approximate cost to build the complex

$7M amount of money the new facility will pump into the local economy

166,000 square footage of Job Corps site

300 number of students to be housed in the dormitory

600 number of students Job Corps expects to serve annually

100 number of jobs to be created by the new facility

Job Corps campus near Tropicana Field will train at-risk students, create 100 jobs 04/04/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 4, 2009 4:31am]
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