Challenger Center could jump-start local economic development

John F. Floyd

John F. Floyd

If you are not familiar with the term STEM, you had better brush up on your English because there is going to be a lot of discussion surrounding this term.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. I believe the United States’ educational system has failed in all aspects of developing a curriculum with emphasis on those four subjects. In fact, I think it now places mediocrity over exceptionalism — but I digress.

Gadsden has an exceptional opportunity to jump-start economic development by having a proposed Northeast Alabama Challenger Learning Center locate in Gadsden.

There are 44 such centers across the country and three overseas. (This would be Alabama’s first.)

They are named for the space shuttle destroyed shortly after in launch in 1986, on what was to have been an education-based mission. Their parent organization, the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, was founded by the families of the astronauts who died.

Students who attend get to participate in hands-on simulations of launching or working in space shuttles, and mission control activities.

Much has already been done to domicile this very important center in Gadsden. A Challenger Center Task Force has already been established with strong Etowah County participation.

The members include Jeff Boyd, development director, Rainbow City; Barry Cherry, co-owner, Hokes Bluff Welding and Fabrication; Tina Gregerson, president/owner, Personnel Staffing, Inc.; Craig Inzer Jr., Etowah County commissioner and business owner, Little Bridge Marina; Martha Lavender, retired president of Gadsden State Community College; Jennifer Maddox, president/CEO, Community Foundation; Allen Millican, retired circuit court judge and attorney, chair of the Gadsden City Board of Education; Nanda Patel, former owner of Holiday Inn Express and community advocate; Jeff Prince, Rainbow City Council member; Theresa Rhea, retired dean of enrollment/retention, Gadsden State Community College; Tony Smith, manager, Alabama

Read the rest