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Germanna Community College and its Educational Foundation thanked the Stafford Economic Development Authority for its support in bringing an expanded, permanent site to the county during a check presentation ceremony on Nov. 29.

The Stafford EDA presented the GCC Real Estate Foundation with a check for $750,000 to go toward the new, expanded site located at 25 Center St. in North Stafford.

Germanna President Janet Gullickson said the support of the Stafford EDA was essential to making it possible for the college to acquire its new $15 million Center of Educational Excellence at Center Street set to open for classes in 2024.

Noting that nearly 80 percent of Germanna graduates remain in the area to put skills they’ve learned to use here, Gullickson said, “County residents and business people can count on Germanna and its graduates to help Stafford thrive for decades to come.”

“The Stafford EDA made a commitment to support Germanna’s expansion in Stafford years ago,” Stafford EDA Chairman Joel Griffin said, “and it is a pleasure to see this day come to fruition. With this expansion, Germanna will continue and expand its services to Stafford citizens, business and residents across our region, Northern Virginia, and the Commonwealth.”

Griffin said during Tuesday’s ceremony that the EDA “has really focused on workforce development. Germanna is a tremendous partner in that initiative. The nursing program and cybersecurity program Germanna offers to our community is first class –and I don’t mean for our region I mean across the nation. These are jobs that support our national security. I think COVID has brought to the forefront nurses and what they do every single day. So on behalf of the EDA, I’m very proud to represent to say that we are delighted about this partnership. We hope to see many more years of collaboration and work.”

Griffin added: The congratulations really go to Don [Newlin] and Jack [Rowley], who had the foresight and the fortitude to make this happen. On behalf of all of the EDA members, we’re delighted that we could fill this commitment and move forward with a brand new facility.”

Gullickson told the crowd at Tuesday’s ceremony: “We will transform this neighborhood. For example, this building will have a [free] wellness clinic where people can come in and get diabetes checks or get blood pressure tests and get some dental exams here…”

“The shortage of frontline healthcare professionals is real,” Gullickson told the crowd. She said that every year Germanna has 1,000 students apply to enter its nursing program and has to turn many away. She said the new facilities will help GCC meet its goal of doubling the number of nurses graduated each year from 200 to 400.

Two buildings, named the Barbara J. Fried Center at 10 Center St. and the Kevin L. Dillard Health Sciences Center at 25 Center St., totaling over 74,000 square feet, will meet Germanna’s space requirements in Stafford for years to come, said Jack Rowley, also president of GCC’s Real Estate Foundation.

In 2018, Germanna leased an 18,921-square-foot building in Stafford that more than tripled the space available at a 5,000-square-foot GCC center opened at Aquia in 2009. The new facilities will more than triple that existing space. Germanna will continue to offer classes at its Barbara J. Fried Center near Stafford Hospital until the Center Street site opens.

“Stafford has the largest population in Germanna’s service area,” Rowley said. “With Germanna’s focus on Allied Health Service and cybersecurity, students will be prepared for skills-gap careers in health care and government”

“I’m extremely excited for the Educational Foundation,” said Bruce Davis, executive director of Germanna’s Educational Foundation and GCC Special Assistant to the President for Institutional Advancement. “This is the single biggest transaction and project ever undertaken by the foundation and will benefit the college and thousands of students over many years. This project would not have happened without the dedication of Jack Rowley as president of our Real Estate Foundation and the vision of the Stafford Economic Development Authority.“

Stafford EDA Treasurer Howard Owen said: “As a Stafford businessman, it’s exciting to see Germanna expand into North Stafford. I know it has been a long time coming and the perseverance of the college and community volunteers is to be applauded. I’m also proud that the Stafford County Economic Development Authority was able to play a role in the expansion, and I hope the partnership between Stafford County and GCC continues to grow.”

“Stafford County is so thrilled to welcome Germanna to the Griffis-Widewater District,” said Griffis-Widewater Supervisor Tinesha O. Allen. “We’re excited about all the wonderful educational and employment opportunities the college will bring to our students and residents. Germanna’s commitment to Stafford is part of a very fruitful and important relationship between our residents and the college. More Stafford students attend Germanna than any other college, so being able to have a campus located right in Stafford has been a long time coming. We are so grateful to the leadership of Germanna for making this site a reality and we look forward to Germanna being a leader in providing IT, cybersecurity, and health care related training and educational enrichment to our community.”

Crystal Vanuch, chair of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, said: “Stafford and Germanna have had a long and positive history and this expansion exemplifies the importance of the College to Stafford County.  On behalf of the entire Board of Supervisors, we look forward to the continued role Germanna plays in Stafford.”

For over five decades, the Stafford County Economic Development Authority (EDA) has elevated the profile and the prosperity of local businesses in Stafford, Griffin said. He said thoughtful financing and incentives encourage job creation, capital investment, and keep growth well-paced. The EDA champions projects that strengthen Stafford, he said.

Gullickson noted that Germanna has been named a “Center of Excellence” in Cybersecurity by the NSA and Homeland Security and said GCC cybersecurity interns are in great demand by Stafford-based defense contractors.

The building at 25 Center Street will be devoted to Germanna’s highly regarded Nursing and Allied Health Technologies Programs, the largest in the Virginia Community College System and one with consistently high National Council of State Boards of Nursing exam pass rates. The building at 10 Center Street will be devoted to cybersecurity, IT and dual enrollment.

Gullickson noted that Germanna has committed to doubling its number of Nursing and related graduates over the next three years in response to this critical shortage. GCC has also committed to serving community health needs by featuring a community wellness center in the new Stafford facility.

Not counting noncredit workforce training students, Germanna has 3,191 students from Stafford this year and that number is projected to grow to 3,693 by 2025.

“Germanna can move forward with this expansion because of major community donors” who have donated $4.5 million, Rowley said. “There is very strong student need and local support to have this major educational center in Stafford, which has the largest population of any locality served by Germanna.”

Germanna Dean of Nursing Patti Lisk said the expansion will be a shot in the arm to the nursing and health sciences program because Stafford has the largest number of applicants to the nursing program, many of whom find it difficult to travel to the Locust Grove Campus for classes due to the large geographical size of the GCC footprint.

Eileen Dohmann, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Mary Washington Healthcare, said both Stafford Hospital and Mary Washington Hospital will benefit from the increase in Germanna nursing and health sciences graduates generated by the new site.

Within the Germanna Service area, Nursing and Allied Health labor shortages match the rest of the nation at 18 to 25 percent. This shortage alone is severe enough for the expansion of health programs of study, Davis said. Additionally, the service area labor shortage will worsen when the 450,000-square-foot Veterans Administration Clinic opens in late 2023 or early 2024.

The Stafford EDA’s donation is part of a total of $4.5 million in gifts that made the expansion possible, Gullickson said. “Public-private partnerships like this one put Germanna right where it wants to be, in the middle of meeting business and industry workforce needs.”

Davis said modifications to the two buildings are expected to begin in March. Germanna is working with John Burger, Architect, PC on the designs.