Wed., August 21, 2013 3:51pm (EDT)

Savannah Training Center Targets Gulfstream
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 8 months ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Six years ago, Nelson Guzman worked for a local janitorial company, cleaning the hangar floors at Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation.   Today, he’s a structural mechanic at Gulfstream, where he assembles frames for state-of-the-art cockpits for the company’s G450 and G550 jets.   At the age of 19, Nelson formulated a plan to get the training he needed to transition from sweeping floors to building high-tech airplanes.  The key component of that plan was attending Savannah Tech's Aircraft Structural Assembly program.  (photo Savannah Technical College)
Six years ago, Nelson Guzman worked for a local janitorial company, cleaning the hangar floors at Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation. Today, he’s a structural mechanic at Gulfstream, where he assembles frames for state-of-the-art cockpits for the company’s G450 and G550 jets. At the age of 19, Nelson formulated a plan to get the training he needed to transition from sweeping floors to building high-tech airplanes. The key component of that plan was attending Savannah Tech's Aircraft Structural Assembly program. (photo Savannah Technical College)
Savannah Technical College this week officially opened an aviation training center.

It aims squarely at one of the area's largest employers.

The nearly $7 million classroom, hangar and lab space is across the street from jet manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace.

A Gulfstream official called the grand opening an "exciting day" for the company.

The state financed the 30,000 square foot aviation training center.

Soon, it will be graduating certified mechanics with training that's targeted at Gulfstream.

Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson says the company has been growing its workforce and its Savannah facilities for several years.

"Gulfstream has made a commitment to this area," Jackson says. "They've expanded. They've created a maintenance facility here. This is actually a pretty small investment when you consider the demand that is there for that technical workforce."

Aviation is a high-wage industry in the region.

It's fueled by Gulfstream in Savannah, Boeing in Charleston and Embaer in Jacksonville.

Trip is Tollison President and CEO of the Savannah Economic Development Authority.

He says the facility will help to produce jobs for the region.

"By providing a location to fast-track the training of the workforce, that's the least the state and locals can do to make sure that they have the workforce that's capable and ready to go to work when the time comes," Tollison says.

Gulfstream employs about 8,500 workers in Savannah.

Savannah Tech's new facility supports education in aviation manufacturing and repair, interior finishing and electrical installation, among other programs.