One week ago, Brenau University officially took control of the Georgia Mountains Center, making it the home of the school’s new doctoral physical therapy program.
That program, officials said, is expected to launch in January 2014, after the renovation of the Gainesville convention center is complete.
But through the transition, which was announced earlier this year, 11 full- and part-time employees who staff the center may have had questions about their future.
The answer: They’re not going anywhere.
During the Dec. 17 ceremony welcoming Brenau into the convention center, university President Ed Schrader presented the employees, who were previously employed through the city of Gainesville, with Brenau employee badges.
“No one’s been laid off,” Schrader said. “They have all moved to, what I think, is a better job.
“You’re going to get a better benefit package working for a private school than you would with the city. The city has to comply with all sorts of oversight and tax considerations. We have a really good employee package.”
Employees could even opt to continue their education at Brenau free of charge.
Two convention center housekeepers, Schrader said, have moved to Aramark, which the university uses to outsource its facilities upkeep.
The others will now be employed through the university.
“First of all, it was the right thing to do,” Schrader said. “I think it would be silly for me to stand back here and try and make a decision what the manpower needs are going forward until we get further along.”
He said the employees, along with continuing their positions in the convention center, will also help out campuswide, including with ticketed events and maintenance.
“We expect to utilize some of these folks’ skills on the main campus,” Schrader said.
“There’s just a lot of work to do, so why go out and find other people when you have good, qualified folks right there?”
Brenau signed a 10-year lease agreement in February with Gainesville to take over the convention center at 301 Main St. Construction is set to start by the end of January.
The expansion is projected to add about 500 to 700 graduate-level students to the city in the next 10 to 12 years.
The estimated cost of the project is $6.5 million.