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February 07, 2005
Merial and Gwinnett Technical College Partner for Growth of College, Workforce
Merial Commits Funds for GTC’s Veterinary Technology Labs
With pet owners becoming more interested in paying for advanced pet treatments like preventive dental care and surgical procedures, the need for veterinary technicians is on the rise. In fact, experts expect employment of veterinary technologists and technicians to grow considerably faster than other occupations through the year 2012.
As a result, Merial, the world's leading animal health company, has partnered with Gwinnett Technical College to boost the region’s veterinary workforce. A recent commitment of funds and brainpower by Merial will significantly boost the college’s ability to train these much-needed workers in the veterinary technology field.
“There is a tremendous need for technicians in the state of Georgia,” said Zach Mills, DVM, executive director, veterinary services, Merial. “The veterinary technology program is great and growing at Gwinnett Tech, but they needed their own lab space to expand the program further.”
Previously the program split its lab with the medical assisting program. With the success of both programs at the college, enrollment has significantly increased, and it has become imperative that the vet tech program have its own lab.
The partnership benefits both parties. “We’re working on our teaching skills, so as a result, our people get to practice through guest presentations while [Gwinnett Tech vet tech students] are gaining the skills and knowledge they need to become successful – and they get new lab space in which to do it,” Mills said.
“Merial’s decision to provide funds that will help us equip and construct the Merial Veterinary Technology Laboratory, and to become a Gwinnett Technical College education partner for the program will extend our ability to enhance the education of our students,” said Bonnie Ballard, program director, veterinary technology program, Gwinnett Tech.
Merial’s contribution will help underwrite the costs associated with purchasing microscopes, a microscope camera, computers, projectors, workstations, chairs, bookshelves and other much-needed laboratory equipment and furnishings, as well as to support the construction needed to prepare the lab. In addition, Merial is assisting the veterinary technology program with other supplies, as well as classroom speakers when needed.
“We are thrilled to partner with such a leading, cutting-edge company in the field of veterinary science and medicine,” said Sharon Rigsby, president, Gwinnett Tech. “This partnership is a true asset to our students. Not only is the company committing funds that we will use to purchase equipment and supplies that will help make our classrooms and labs the best in the business, but it is also willing to share its people power and help educate our students through guest speakers. This commitment is a real testimony to the type of civic-minded organization our area acquired when Merial moved here.”
As Gwinnett Tech develops its new bioscience program that focuses on newer technologies and newer science as they relate to human and animal health, Merial may also become a champion for the college in that area as well. The college’s new bioscience program is part of a region-wide emphasis on developing a bio-tech workforce program that would provide a skilled pool of technicians that large pharmaceutical research and manufacturing companies need.
“Merial saw this opportunity to collaborate with Gwinnett Tech and we acted,” said Mills. “Every business should have ties to its community. We’re working with United Way, the Chamber of Commerce and now Gwinnett Tech,” said Mills.
The Merial Duluth facility is the first research-based veterinary pharmaceutical and vaccine company in Georgia. The firm participated in the Georgia Quick Start program when it first moved into the community in 2001. As part of the collaboration, Merial will also use Gwinnett Tech’s Busbee Center for conducting seminars and other business-based functions.
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 6,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2003 sales were in excess of $1.8 billion. Merial Limited is a joint venture between Merck & Co., Inc. and Aventis, part of the sanofi-aventis Group. For more information, please see www.merial.com.
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About Gwinnett Tech
Gwinnett Technical College, one of Georgia's largest technical colleges, is committed to delivering relevant knowledge to meet the workforce training needs of the region it serves. The college offers more than 50 associate degree, diploma and certificate programs and hundreds of seminars, workshops and courses providing specialized training. Gwinnett Tech's service area includes Gwinnett and North Fulton counties. Gwinnett Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the associate degree. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Gwinnett Technical College. In addition, some college programs hold separate licensure or accreditation status with appropriate agencies. For more information, visit www.GwinnettTech.edu.
A unit of the Technical College System of Georgia.