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Lights on! Switch for Communiversity sign flipped
Officials gather for dedication
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County and city officials joined educators amidst a cloud of fog Thursday morning for a ceremonial lighting of the sign at Featherbone Communiversity.

The sign, which has an electronic message board, now serves as a marquee welcome to the City of Gainesville along U.S. 129 South.

Featherbone Communiversity is the former Warren Featherbone Co. manufacturing plant, which has been converted to house the Brenau University School of Nursing, Lanier Technical College’s Manufacturing Development Center and Interactive Neighborhood for Kids.

On Thursday afternoon, Hall County Commission approved to extend the county’s annual $50,000 donation to Lanier Technical College’s Manufacturing Development Center for an additional four years. The county, as well as other local municipalities, has donated thousands of dollars to the program since its inception in early 2006.

In 2006, the county pledged to donate $50,000 a year until June 2009. And at Thursday’s meeting, the commission approved to extend that $50,000-a-year pledge commitment four more years until June 2013. The funds will be used to continue staffing for the manufacturing development center and to provide additional infrastructure.

The center aims to provide direct assistance to entrepreneurs and small companies. The staff and resources made available through the center offer assistance in finance, intellectual property, production and logistics.

In addition to office equipment access, the center allows participants the use of on-site rapid prototyping equipment, which reduces the development time and costs associated with creating a product or business model. The center also has a 50,000-square-foot facility at the Featherbone Center, which allows entrepreneurs reasonable lease rates for office, warehousing and manufacturing.

"This is a rekindling of the idea of entrepreneurship, which I truly believe is the backbone of this country," County Commission Chairman Tom Oliver said. "There’s so many people who have great ideas, but they don’t know how to take them from A to Z. This will allow young or old entrepreneurs a place to start."