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Impact of The Continuum will be felt for years to come

on Tuesday, 30 July 2019. Posted in Editorials, Opinions

As the ribbon is cut and the doors swing open on the new $25 million, 46,000-square-foot Continuum in downtown Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 6, it will be hard to fully understand and appreciate the profound impact the state-of-the-art facility will have on the people and communities of the Pee Dee Region.

The effects will be no doubt be felt right away, but the appreciation for The Continuum and what it offers will grow as each year passes.

The Continuum, a dynamic educational initiative created through a partnership between the Darla Moore Foundation, Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College, will offer area students pathways to meaningful careers. At the same time it will offer employers statewide a much-needed stream of skilled employees.

When the initiative was first announced in March, philanthropist and entrepreneur Darla Moore said The Continuum would serve as a “a vision for what the future of education could, and probably should, look like.”

She went on to say that there is no more pressing issue facing our state than creating an educational system that more effectively meets the needs of the businesses and industries of this state.

We could not agree more. We also think The Continuum will go a long way in meeting those needs.

During a recent presentation with the West Florence Rotary Club, Continuum Executive Director Jeanette Altman used the phrase “workforce development” on numerous occasions. While giving students of all ages a means to earn a valuable trade or profession, the intended end result is a good-paying job for the individual and a workforce with greater skills and training for our communities and our state.

The Continuum will offer courses in a variety of disciplines across many academic tracks. Dual enrollment courses, and courses for traditional students, will include English, math, history, biology, chemistry, art, music, business, computer science, education, pre-engineering and pre-nursing. Initially, the workforce development courses will provide training in HVAC, welding, health sciences, mechatronics and advanced manufacturing technology. Additional courses will be added as The Continuum grows and develops.

At least a half dozen public school districts, and several private schools, have indicated they will send students to The Continuum. Some dual enrollment, and other courses, already offered by FMU and FDTC, will move to The Continuum facility in Lake City. Last week, FDTC held its first-ever fall orientation at The Continuum.

It will also house a business incubator for up to five nascent businesses. The incubator will be operated through Francis Marion University’s Kelly Center for Enterprise and Innovation. The center operates the business development center for the City of Florence in downtown Florence.

With space to hold community events, organizers also expect The Continuum to become an important civic center for the citizens of Lake City and beyond.

We can certainly see many parallels between The Continuum and the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology. The far-reaching effect SiMT has had on the workforce of Pee Dee region and the state in its 12 short years of existence is immeasurable. It’s not hard to envision The Continuum following a similar path and making an equally indelible impact on our economy.

We applaud all of the people and parties involved in making The Continuum a reality. Your efforts will bear fruit in many forms for many years to come. We also applaud and offer our support to those who will carry The Continuum into the future.

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