ST. PETERSBURG — The wait is over.
Two years after the $40 million job corps center opened in Midtown, the 21-acre site will finally be put to use.
The U.S. Department of Labor, after months of delay, has awarded the job of operating the federal job-training campus to ResCare, a Kentucky company that runs job corps centers in Miami and Homestead.
"I'm very much excited that the award has been made," said Goliath Davis, the city's senior administrator for community enrichment. "We look forward to activity at the site."
The site sits at 22nd Street and Fifth Avenue S, a swath of property the city put together for industrial development intended to attract 600 jobs. The site was instead sold to the Labor Department in 2007. Job corps centers provide free housing and career training for disadvantaged youths ages 16 to 24, as well as high school and general educational development programs.
ResCare won the bid in 2009 to operate the center, but another bidder challenged the award, delaying the opening of the campus. So for months, the nine new buildings sat empty while the dispute was resolved.
Federal officials would confirm on Wednesday only that ResCare was awarded the contract.
The center will employ 120 people, but not all of them will be St. Petersburg residents. It will instruct 300 students in areas covering construction, culinary arts, technology, and the medical and nursing fields.
City officials were told about the contract by ResCare officials. They say they hope the project will help revive the local economy.
"You will have a huge economic impact in Midtown because you'll have all these employees and students there who will be receiving an economic stipend," said St. Petersburg City Council member Wengay Newton. "It's great news. It's a beautiful facility that will finally be open."
"I wished it had opened on time, but I'm glad they finally ordered a contract," said Mayor Bill Foster. "I hope it has an impact on my residents."
Newton was told that there were 4,000 applications for the 300 student spots. Each student will receive an economic stipend.
Davis said he hopes the school will be open by October.