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$10M goes to Miss. community colleges for workforce training push

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Three North Mississippi community colleges have received grants to serve as anchors for a $10.5 million initiative to produce a workforce ready to work in the state’s growing automotive, aerospace and advanced manufacturing sector, according to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

Cochran announced the award of three ARC grants for infrastructure and workforce training projects involving East Mississippi Community College (EMMC), Northwest Mississippi Community College (NMCC) and Itawamba Community College (ICC).  The grants are funded through $16 million appropriated by Congress in FY2016 for ARC to support workforce training programs in southern and south-central Appalachia.

“These education and training projects will increase opportunities for Mississippians to develop the skills to work in our state’s expanding aerospace, automotive and manufacturing industries,” said Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  “I appreciate the confidence the Appalachian Regional Commission is placing in the potential of Mississippi’s workforce to support more manufacturing jobs.”

This grant will serve as a boost for the workforce of Mississippi’s most quickly growing industries.

“Southern Appalachia’s manufacturing industry is growing.” said Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission.  “These investments will help Mississippi’s manufacturing workforce become skilled, ready, and globally competitive.”

In total, ARC is providing $8.96 million for the three projects, which will be matched with $1.59 million in county, state and private resources.  The overall goal of the grants is to provide the training and educational facilities necessary to train workers for technical manufacturing positions.

EMMC is awarded $4.6 million to construct six additional high-bay classrooms as part of the school’s workforce training facility or “Communiversity” at the entrance to the Golden Triangle Regional Global Industrial Aerospace Park in Lowndes County.  In addition to $6.1 million in earlier ARC funding, this $42 million, 135,000-square-foot “Communiversity” has also received financial backing from the State of Mississippi, and Lowndes, Oktibbeha and Clay counties.

The Marshall County Board of Supervisors is awarded a $3.16 million ARC grant to construct a 30,000-square-foot workforce training and reemployment center in Holly Springs in partnership with NMCC and the State of Mississippi.  Including $790,860 in matching funds, $3.9 million will be available to build the facility. The center will feature five classrooms, a computer lab, and five high-bay educational spaces for electrical technology, advanced and automotive manufacturing training.

ICC will have $2.0 million available through a $1.2 million ARC grant and an $800,000 matching contribution to renovate 21,200 square feet of space within its Belden Center for robotics and precision manufacturing technology programs.  The ARC funding will allow ICC to install a tool and die training laboratory, as well as a robotics laboratory in the renovated Belden Center.  The project will allow ICC to consolidate related training programs into one facility.

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