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The Suburbanite
  • Stark State dedicates a new building, welcomes its new president

  • Stark State College celebrated a new building and its new president during Thursday afternoon ceremonies.

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  • Stark State College celebrated a new building and its new president during Thursday afternoon ceremonies.
    The college’s fourth president, Para M. Jones, and the $9.6 million Business and Entrepreneurial Center were the objects of admiration and praise.
    “This building and Dr. Para Jones will be a difference maker in this community’s future,” said Dr. Michael Thomas, chairman of the Board of Trustees.
    Jones took over as president in early February. But she was at Stark State for 22 years before taking the president’s post at  Spartanburg Community College in Spartanburg, S.C., in 2009.
    She maintained ties to the community — she and her husband still own their home in Jackson.
    “Important,” said Thomas. “She has skin in the game. This is her community.”
    Students are the focus,” she said. “For our students, Stark State is the key to the American dream through education.”
    She introduced former U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula. “He is widely regarded at the founder of Stark State College,” Jones said.
    Regula had praise for trustees and Jones. “We’re blessed to have a board with vision and we have a leader for that board,” he said.
    Noting that the original money to start the college came from $3 million attached to a state highway bill, he said, “This is literally the road to success.”
    Guest speaker was Executive Director Rich Frederick of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation “That’s a fancy way of saying job training,” he said.
    The agency is aimed at helping people get jobs “and we’re going to do it though partnerships” with institutions like Stark State, said Frederick, of Jackson Township.
    Having a trained workforce is vital to and area because that’s one the main things businesses look for when deciding where to locate, he said.
    He placed Stark State at the top of Ohio’s community colleges. “They do it right,” he said.
    The center will house study for more than 30 degrees, options and certificates in accounting, business management, corporate finance, entrepreneurship, marketing management and other programs, along with a business incubator program.
    Among features of the building designed to high energy efficiency standards and aimed at helping businesses develop:
    • 47,708 square feet, three stories
    • 86-seat lecture hall
    • 3,300-square-foot atrium seating about 380
    • Seven “business incubator” offices, plus support offices and conference rooms
    • Financial, marketing and captioning labs
    • Two classrooms/three computer labs
    • Stock ticker/international clocks
    • Testing center
    • 51 full-time faculty offices/24-seat adjunct faculty office