Staff Photo: Frank Reddy
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson speaks during a dedication ceremony for the new 78,000 square-foot life sciences center at Gwinnett Technical College.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Students, teachers and legislators showed up Wednesday morning to mark a milestone in the history of Gwinnett Technical College.
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson was among the speakers at the event. Isakson said the tribute to the new 78,000 square-foot life sciences center was a fitting one.
"Gwinnett County and Gwinnett Tech are right on the mark, right on time and right on place with this facility," said Isakson in an interview prior to the event.
The center, which opened for fall semester classes in August, will serve 3,000 students annually, enabling the technical college to accept additional life sciences and health care professionals.
Isakson said that's a good group of professionals to serve right now.
"Healthcare is 17 percent of gross domestic product in the United States," Isakson said. "It's the growth engine of the 21st century."
Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Bartels said "the need is there.
"Healthcare ... life care ... is the industry of expansion for the coming decades," Bartels said. "If you want to develop quality of life in your community, it makes perfect sense that you prepare people for the health sciences positions that are going to be needed."
Hundreds showed up for Wednesday's gathering, including dozens of current students and graduates of the technical college's health programs.
Also in attendance Wednesday was Ron Jackson, Commissioner with the Technical College System of Georgia. He too congratulated the college on the new building.
With more than a dozen health sciences programs, the college serves the state's highest number of health science students.
Combined with its existing facilities, the college now has more than 140,000 square feet in two buildings on campus dedicated to health science education.