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GRREC Conference Center Ground Breaking

Bowling Green-based regional ed co-op breaks ground on $3.5 million headquarters expansion; growth due to record number of member districts, Race to the Top grant services
Bowling Green Daily News, June 3, 2014
GRREC breaks ground on its headquarters expansion
By CHUCK MASON

The Green River Regional Educational Cooperative has come a long way from the days when educators got together at Shoney’s to talk shop.

The educational cooperative getting ready to serve 40 public school districts in Kentucky – the most ever in its history – broke ground Monday on an addition to its headquarters at the Kentucky Transpark.

The $3.5 million project by Alliance Corporation includes a 13,500-square-foot addition and a 2,000-square-foot storage building. The larger room will break into four separate conference rooms. The subcontractors on the job are Scott & Murphy of Bowling Green for the concrete and the new metal building; Knight Mechanical of Glasgow for the plumbing and HVAC; and Diversified Electric of Bowling Green for the electrical, said Tim Geegan, Alliance executive vice president.

The plan is to start work at the site next week and complete the project by mid-February. Interior renovations to the existing headquarters also are planned, Geegan said. The expansion was approved after GRREC received a more than $40 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top initiative.

Established in 1968, GRREC has outgrown its headquarters that opened in 2009 and now has more than 100 employees, said George Wilson, GRREC executive director. GRREC provides expertise and training in public education initiatives to member districts and Western Kentucky University.

The staff visits public schools in a 10,000-square-mile area and offers training to meet Kentucky public school upgrades, such as those connected to the college- and career-ready mandate of Senate Bill 1. The cooperative affects more than 138,000 students annually. It also provides bid expertise to member districts and cooperative purchasing options to all of Kentucky.

“GRREC is growing because it is a leading organization for service to school districts,” Barren County Schools Superintendent Bo Matthews said. Matthews is GRREC board chairman.

“It’s a critical time in education,” Matthews said after the groundbreaking. “We are implementing new reforms.”

GRREC serves WKU and 37 public school districts in Kentucky. Wilson said he’s received applications from three more districts.

“We might be the best-kept secret in the state of Kentucky,” Wilson said.

Wilson said they try to meet the needs of member organizations and he is proud of the work of GRECC’s staff in doing so.

Liz Storey, executive director prior to Wilson, said it is great to see the work GRREC is doing.

When the cooperative decided to build the headquarters in the Transpark, she said “it was a leap of faith,” mixed with a dose of trust by the area superintendents of schools who make up the board.

“I’m as proud as I can be,” Storey said.

“We all know that we can call on GRREC,” Allen County Schools Superintendent Randall Jackson said. “It was a very strategic move placing the GRREC headquarters at the Kentucky Transpark.

Gary Dillard, chairman of the Inter-Modal Transportation Authority, said people should be aware of an upcoming announcement by the state of Kentucky that the long-awaited connector road between Interstate 65 and U.S. 31-W to serve the Transpark is a reality. “We’re predicting more business will come to the Transpark.”

Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said the city focuses on three major efforts in economic development – medical, manufacturing and education. “That triad is working,” Wilkerson said.

“The Kentucky Transpark has been a regional partnership since the beginning,” Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said. “Education is absolutely a part of economic development.”

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