Virginia College in Mobile recently announced the launch of a new welding technician program at the campus, located at 3725 Airport Blvd., Suite 165. This will be the first Virginia College in the country to offer the diploma, according to a press release. Enrollment for the 44-week course is now open with classes beginning June 29.

“We are pleased to add this program to our expanding list of offerings,” Eric Berrios, Mobile campus president, said. “The specialized skills that students will learn in this program will be great assets to them as they compete in today’s fast-paced, global business world.”

The welding technician diploma program offers students hands-on learning opportunities using modern equipment to complete tasks that simulate a welding technician’s job. Students will learn about the various types of processes, equipment and materials used in welding, as well as receive instruction in safety, blueprint reading, computer applications, machine shop practices and computer-aided drafting. The program also includes preparation for three national welding certifications. 

Students are also taught basic occupational communication skills and a general knowledge base necessary for effective functioning in the industrial setting. Successful graduates of the welding technician curriculum may be employed as entry-level technicians in welding and metalworking industries. Career opportunities also exist in construction, manufacturing, fabrication, sales, quality control, supervision and welding-related self-employment.

Birmingham-based Education Corporation of America is a leader in the post-secondary career school market with current enrollment of more than 18,000 students. Holdings include Virginia College, founded in 1983, a private institution of higher education that offers non-degree and associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in 27 cities in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Commercial real estate moves
Christian Life Church has leased 9,900 square feet at Cottage Village shopping center, located at 4025 Cottage Hill Road in the southeast quadrant of Cottage Hill Road and Demetropolis Boulevard. David Dexter of NAI Mobile represented the tenant. Mike Reid of White-Spunner Realty worked for the landlord.

Some 2,800 square feet of space was leased by Sylvan Learning Center in the Spanish Fort Town Center, 3000 Town Centre Ave. Sharon Wright and Michael Wilson of White-Spunner Realty represented the landlord. Angela McArthur of Stirling Properties worked for Sylvan.

Justin Toomey, associate broker with Stirling Properties, leased the former 4,500-square-foot Denny’s restaurant located at 812 I-65 Service Road to Steak & Eggs for six years, as well as the 2,500-square-foot former Lenny’s Sub Shop located at 257 Azalea Road to a Mediterranean restaurant for five years.

Covered Boutique, the first graduate of the Urban Emporium retail incubator program that relocated into a separate storefront two years ago, is now moving into even larger, more visible space at 222 Dauphin St. The women’s clothing and accessories shop is scheduled to reopen this Friday for LoDa ArtWalk. 

An 8,700-square-foot retail center located at 3110 Airport Blvd. was purchased by nonlocal investors for $300,000. Ralph Watson of Watson Realty handled the transaction for the fully-leased property.

The federal government has recently released renderings of the $89 million federal courthouse to be constructed at St. Louis and St. Joseph streets. Construction of the five-story, 155,000-square-foot courthouse is expected to begin next year and projected to open in mid-2018. Original plans called for a much larger building that straddled two blocks of downtown, but the project was scaled back as space needs and funding availability changed. 

Some 1,400 square feet of office space was leased by ALFA Insurance at 3725 Airport Blvd. in the Mobile Festival Centre. Buff Teague of JLL represented the landlord. Tim Herrington of Herrington Realty represented the tenant. ALFA plans to open the new office in early fall.  

Blue Fish Design Studio recently announced a move to 412 Dauphin St. The Mattress Factory location is already home to other businesses such as Fine Line Design, Seven Eleven Fabrication and Paint the Town. Blue Fish specializes in digital marketing, web design and branding.

Coastal Alabama Business Chamber presents Island Spirit Award
The Coastal Alabama Business Chamber recently presented its Island Spirit Award for May to Jesus Gomez-Fiqueroa at a special ceremony at Meyer Vacation Rentals in Foley.

 In presenting the award, Island Spirit Chairman Nora Mandoki cited Gomez-Fiqueroa’s passion and positive attitude.

“His genuine love of people and what he does shines through in everything and everyone he touches,” Mandoki said. 

The Island Spirit Award, presented monthly by the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber, has been a tradition since mid-1980. The award was designed to give special recognition to individuals who make special contributions to the quality of life enjoyed in coastal Alabama. According to a press release, anyone can nominate a special individual for this honor. Nominations can be made online by visiting the Chamber’s website

The Coastal Alabama Business Chamber is a business-based, volunteer-driven, member-supported association and supports Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan.  

Non-motorized mobility study
Washington, D.C.-based Toole Design Group, one of the nation’s leading landscape architecture and engineering firms specializing in bicycle and pedestrian transportation, was recently hired to conduct a downtown Mobile non-motorized mobility study.

Public and private groups are working together this week to collect data on how to improve intersection safety, walkability and biking accessibility in LoDa, connections between major intersections and functionality of the Broad Street corridor.

The project is a joint effort of the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, the City of Mobile, the Downtown Mobile Alliance and the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Improvement of non-motorized mobility in downtown Mobile has long been a hot button for residents in the area.

An open workshop was held Monday to allow public input. A wrap-up presentation open to the public will be held tonight at 6 p.m. at The Temple, 351 St. Francis St.

Contact the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission at or 251-433-6541 with inquiries.