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Brewton tech center assists state business

By By ANNA M. LEE Assistant Editor
Brewton's Alabama Technology Network (ATN) center offers high tech services to Alabama's businesses and generates millions in revenue for the state.
Last year, Auburn University economists analyzed ATN's impact on the economy and determined that ATN contributed to adding or maintaining 6,200 jobs in the state and added $324 million to Alabama's gross product.
ATN is made up of ten centers, linked with the University of Alabama System, Auburn University, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and two-year colleges throughout the state.
Once a business contacts ATN, or vice versa, about working together, ATN does an assessment of the current state of the business's manufacturing process. Then they develop a plan for improving the process, reducing costs, or improving quality.
Brewton's ATN office focuses on information technology services, such as training, web development, network installation and security and multimedia.
The center offers training for Cisco certification, specialized LAN/WAN and convergent technology.
They offer multimedia services like production of digital brochures, CD duplication, digital editing and flash programming.
Another area of training offered at Brewton's ATN is in "lean manufacturing techniques." Lean manufacturing techniques are intended to drive cost and waste out of a business process.
Channel 6, Brewton's local government access channel, is produced through ATN. Channel 6 broadcasts city council meetings, a morning talk show with the mayor and community announcements.
Past projects have included the production of a mini CD digital brochure for Reid State Technical College, maintenance of Brewton City Schools and City of Brewton web pages, plant layout assessment for Muskogee Metalworks and development of Econec's call center.
The facilities, on Jefferson Davis Community College's (JDCC) campus, are available to the college and to businesses.
JDCC offers classes and computer labs in the building, and ATN assists with the college's distance learning program.
Also, business can use the facilities for meetings or conferences.
Offering a wide range of expertise and ensuring client satisfaction are important to ATN.
Funding for ATN comes from four sources -- federal grants, state grants, client service fees and local funding.
After Alabama's failed tax reform vote in September, state funding for ATN was cut, leaving the program without state funding after December.
Though federal funding is intact for this fiscal year, "next year's federal funding is in jeopardy," Dunn said, due to a bill that would cut National Institute of Standards and Technology funding from $110 million to $23 million.
ATN has formed committees to consider alternatives in the event that funding won't allow them to operate in the same way. Some possible alternatives would be to combine or close some of the state's 10 centers, generate more local funding or increase client fees.