The Academy at Fairhope Airport won the 2015 Norman J. Walton Sr. Regional Award from the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission for its innovation, cost effectiveness and its demonstration of cooperation among entities to improve the quality of life in the region.

Fairhope Mayor Tim Kant, left, and Fairhope Airport Authority Chairman Joe McEnerney.

Fairhope Mayor Tim Kant, left, and Fairhope Airport Authority Chairman Joe McEnerney.

The Academy is a cooperative project developed by the City of Fairhope, the Fairhope Airport Authority, Baldwin County Board of Education, Faulkner State College, and Enterprise State College.

The Academy meets the growing need for workforce development in the aviation, avionics, and industrial maintenance fields and provides increased opportunities for students and adults to land good-paying jobs in Baldwin and Mobile counties that don’t necessarily require a four-year college degree.

Fairhope Airport Authority chairman Joe McEnerney said the award underscores the value of the project.

“The Academy is something the Airport Authority has been working toward for five years,” McEnerney said. “It’s a great example of cooperation among different entities. It’s also unique in that it provides a structured program of training and certification to approach the challenge of building a needed local workforce in a very competitive field. Currently, some of our larger local employers — Segers Aero Corporation, Continental Motors, Goodrich, Austal, and others — require employees with certain skill sets and certification, and that’s what students are obtaining through courses at The Academy. As Airbus continues to grow, there will be even more jobs to fill.”

Fairhope Mayor Tim Kant said the school is an opportunity “to make sure our children will be able to finish high school and have a job where they can support their families right here. That’s the most positive thing that we can do.”

Gov. Robert Bentley stressed the need for a well-trained workforce.

“If you don’t have a skilled workforce, you can’t recruit and you can’t retain,” Bentley said. “What we’re doing here today is training our workforce and that is so important to these [international] companies; that’s what they look for.”

The Academy offers dual-enrollment courses for high school students through the Baldwin County Board of Education and courses for adults through Faulkner State. The BCBE funded the 15,000-square-foot, $2.7 million facility on airport property provided by the City of Fairhope and the Fairhope Airport Authority, with Faulkner State and Enterprise State community colleges providing the instructors.

In of November 2015, it was announced that Faulkner will be taking over all the training at The Academy as well as at the avionics campus formerly run by Enterprise State College at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile.