Governor Nathan Deal is touting the importance of Georgia technical colleges and his push to expand HOPE grants to cover more students.
He says he wants to continue beefing up tech schools to prepare more students to fill jobs in high-demand fields. This afternoon, he met with students at South Georgia Technical College in Americus.
Students Ethan and Jeni Johnson say the HOPE Grant greatly impacted their decision to attend South Georgia Technical College.
"With the grant it was affordable and it's helped us so much with paying our own tuition and I know with culinary and criminal justice, you have to have uniforms. So, it helps with books and uniforms," said SGTC Student Jeni Johnson.
Deal also heard from industry leaders who used their skills at South Georgia Technical College to make job opportunities possible in Americus.
"We've heard from one business that was formed sort of as incubator type business that came out of here they say now they have over 100 employees and are continuing to grow right here in Americus," said Governor Nathan Deal.
An expansion of the HOPE Grant for technical students next school year will pay full tuition for students who maintain a 3.5 GPA and even more students in seven high demand areas of study. Welding, diesel mechanics, medical and information technology were added to the list this year.
"Those all are current areas where we have needs and we expect all of those to continue to grow," said Governor Deal.
Ethan Johnson says through the scholarship, the state is supporting students who want to make a difference in their community.
"That specifically targets students that are willing to work, that are willing to try to not only to further their own career but are willing to make their community a better place to live in," said SGTC Student Ethan Johnson.
South Georgia Tech President Sparky Reeves, says the school prides itself as a regional training center for the state.
" We're trying to establish partnerships to satisfy work force demand," said SGTC President Sparky Reeves.
South Georgia Technical College plans to make another partnership announcement next week.
Deal also talked about his record on jobs. He says 243,000 jobs have been created in the private sector during his time in office. He says it's helped increase state revenue and allowed the state to dramatically increased spending on K-12 education for the upcoming year, after several years of cuts.