Ardmore Chamber of Commerce members awoke at the crack of dawn in an effort to take in the latest installment of Business Before Hours. The quarterly event took place at the Southern Oklahoma Technology Center in the Engineering Technology Center. More than 25 were in attendance as another one of Ardmore’s facilities was unveiled in a behind-the-scenes look for attendees.

“It has been eye-opening,” said Leslie Hicks, Ardmore Chamber of Commerce membership services. “You think of cake decorating and WordPerfect, but it has been an eye-opening experience to see this facility and the cutting edge technology.”

One of the things Dr. David Powell, superintendent at SOTC, wanted to stress was the rigorous programs which feed the community workforce. Powell highlighted the program’s role in helping fill the workforce, which is one of the key components of the Ardmore Development Authority initiatives.

Powell talked about the layout of the building in addition to the programs taking place. He also highlighted what comprises a manufacturing job and the changes that have taken place over the years in regard to manufacturing. Of Michelin’s 1,950 employees, 400 are dedicated just to maintaining the electronics.

“Automation is where it is now,” Powell said. “Old-school manufacturing is dying.”

Students are made up of all ages, from high school and college-age students to employees of companies that arrive at SOTC for additional training. Powell said there are some misconstrued ideas about SOTC having a community college atmosphere because of several of the programs offered and highlighted, but there are plenty of educational opportunities that are rigorous. And the engineering technology center is at the forefront of feeding Ardmore’s industry base.

“We are very proud of this building, and I think it’s very needed,” Powell said. “It’s an important link with the importance of manufacturing jobs.”