AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – The city of Aiken and the Savannah River National Laboratory will be building a workforce development center in downtown Aiken. It will serve as a hub and community face for the SRNL’s academic and industrial partners.

“I think it’s just a win-win for both the lab and the city, so we’re incredibly excited to be partnering with them,” said Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon.

It will be funded using $20 million from the South Carolina Plutonium settlement, and be used as a pipeline for new employees and to improve the current employee base.

Other ways the center will be used include student programs, classroom space, workshops, employment and recruitment, and more.

“Essentially, the labs solve a lot of the problems for our country and energy that the world faces, and the private sector can’t do. So we’re very fortunate to have that within the CSRA,” Mayor Osbon said.

The SRNL has five partner universities, and Mayor Osbon says the center will allow the expansion of USC Aiken into the downtown area.

“Which is something we’ve talked about for years – trying to figure it out, and I really applaud the Chancellor Dan Heimmermann for his commitment to being involved in our downtown and with our university and students, to try to tie the two together. This gonna offer space for that as well,” he said.

Around 80 to 100 laboratory employees will work permanently at the center.

“Which will be such a boost to our downtown businesses also,” Mayor Osbon said. “We like to think of Aiken and our downtown as a place where people like to work, live and play, and we think this will be a great marriage between the lab and the city.”

There will be a stakeholder meeting in the next 30 to 45 days to discuss the building.