VALDOSTA -- State, county and city officials came to show their support for the Georgia Department of Labor Valdosta Career Center at its dedication and ribbon-cutting Thursday.

Mayor John Fretti began the event by thanking the audience and welcoming them to the center.

"Today represents the culmination of more than four years of work," he said. "We are not only under budget, but we also finished ahead of schedule. This building will serve as a beacon of hope and prosperity for our citizens."

Gail Green, chairwoman of the Central Valdosta Development Authority, said the career center was a $4.5 million project that was already getting good reviews from businesses.

Susan Dukes, manager of the Valdosta Career Center, said the building was home to several services, including GED classes by Valdosta Technical College and five DOL departments.

"With all of the services here, we will be building a world class workforce," she said.

Sen. Tim Golden, D-Valdosta, said the teamwork inside the 36,000 square foot building would make "great things happen."

"Ron (Borders, D-Valdosta), Ellis (Black, D-Valdosta), Jay (Shaw, D-Lakeland) and I work together as a team to do the best for our constituents," Golden said. "Teamwork makes all the difference, and this place is the epitome of teamwork."

Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond also attended the ribbon-cutting.

"The facility is beautiful and very accessible," he said. "I want people to know this is the finest career center and the flagship for all others."

The day was also a memorial for late Mayor James H. Rainwater, who, along with Thurmond, worked on the project.

"This is a permanent symbol of the great partnership between Jimmy and Michael," Fretti said.

To contact reporter Michelle Taylor, please call 229-244-3400, ext. 245.

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