January 24, 2017
Bevill State Community College (BSCC) is pleased to announce that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded a $1,920,000 grant for the Bevill State Community College POWER 2016 Initiative. The project will create a new Rapid Training Center at Bevill State’s Jasper campus that will serve as a regional workforce training and job placement hub in northwest Alabama – an area that has been adversely affected by the recent retirement of coal-fired power generation facilities and the closure of multiple coal mines.
The Rapid Training Center will offer accelerated workforce training programs that provide industry-recognized credentials in six growing regional industries: welding, commercial trucking, rigging, hydraulics/pneumatics, healthcare, and print reading. Through a partnership with the Alabama Department of Labor, individuals directly impacted by the decline in coal production will be offered up to $1,000 in scholarships and stipends to move them through the Center’s retraining programming in the most efficient manner possible. In addition, Bevill State is partnering with the AARP to tailor a portion of the retraining and placement support for individuals who are 50+ years old. The project will train 4,000 trainees over the life of the award, and will improve 40 existing businesses in the region.
State Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed of Jasper was instrumental in helping President Larry Ferguson secure the ARC grant money for Bevill State.
“This is terrific news for Bevill State and for the hundreds of people across west Alabama who have been negatively impacted by the loss of coal jobs in our area. The Rapid Training Center at BSCC’s Walker College campus is going to offer hands-on training in marketable skills for these men and women who are looking for work,” Senator Reed remarked. “If a person has recently lost their job, it is often tough for them to find another one with an equivalent income, and it’s especially challenging when you’re trying to completely change industries.”
“Dr. Ferguson and I had discussed this problem at length, and when he came to me with the idea for a Rapid Training Center that would teach people specific skills in welding, rigging, and healthcare, and give scholarships to folks who were coming out of the coal industry, I made this a top priority,” Reed said. “It has been a privilege to work with Dr. Ferguson and the Department of Labor on this project, and I am eager to see the positive results it will have in matching up local, out-of-work folks with regional employers who are ready to hire.”
BSCC Dean for Career Technical Education and Workforce Solutions, Al Moore stated, "We are looking forward to the ARC grant making an indelible mark on our community, by helping us continue preparing students for the workforce."
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced nearly $26 million to expand and diversify the economy in coal-impacted communities in 5 Appalachian states. These 28 awards are projected to train more than 7,300 workers and students impacted by the changing coal economy in certificate, credentialing, and other workforce development programs. They will also create or retain more than 2,500 jobs, leverage an additional $31 million from public and private investors, and create a more vibrant economic future for Appalachia’s coal-impacted communities. Since 2015, ARC has invested $47 million specifically to diversify the economy in the Region's coal-impacted communities through the POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative. The POWER Initiative is a congressionally funded, multi-agency strategy bringing federal resources directly to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.
“These investments capitalize on the growing momentum for a diverse economy in Appalachia,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl. “They are strategic, collaborative, and impactful projects making the Region more competitive in technology, manufacturing, entrepreneurship, broadband, health, and a variety of other sectors.” With today’s announcement, ARC’s dedicated funding for economic diversity in the Region’s coal-impacted communities is projected to create or retain more than 6,500 jobs and leverage an additional $132 million into the Region.