South Plains College has been granted $475,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support the construction of the SPC Plainview Technology Center to provide training opportunities for workers displaced by the closing of Cargill Meat Solutions earlier this year.
The proposed 10,000 square foot facility will expand the college’s capacity to provide training in industrial manufacturing, welding technology, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, construction and other trades.
“We are very excited and appreciative of this EDA investment in a project that is designed to help the Plainview community recover from the closing of a major employer,” said Dr. Kelvin Sharp, president of South Plains College. “We have been working with our partners, especially the City of Plainview, Plainview ISD, and WorkForce Solutions South Plains, to identify and implement new training programs. One of our hurdles was having adequate instructional space to support these programs. With the help of the EDA grant, that hurdle has been overcome.”
The technology center will be constructed adjacent to the SPC Plainview Extension Center located at 1920 W. 24th St. The center will feature classroom and lab space to accommodate industrial manufacturing, welding technology and construction trades programs. Total construction cost for the project is estimated to be $1,000,000 with the college providing $525,000 from student fee revenue bonds authorized the SPC Board of Regents in December 2012. An additional $276,625 from a Title V Strengthening Hispanic Serving Institutions Program grant from the U.S. Department of Education will be used to equip the building with training equipment.
“The City of Plainview pleased to be a part of South Plains College’s vision to construct a new Technology Center here,” said Plainview Mayor Wendell Dunlap. “This is a crucial step in providing retraining opportunities for our current workforce that has been impacted by the Cargill closure as well as providing new training opportunities for our workforce of tomorrow. This investment in our community is a key priority in addressing the challenges we face as we rebuild and grow our local economy. I want to thank SPC for having the vision for a Technology Center in Plainview.”
Plainview City Manager Greg Ingham said the South Plains College Plainview Technology Center is a major step forward for Plainview, after the closing of the Cargill plant in February, which resulted in a loss of 2,200 jobs. “The new center will provide training opportunities for Plainview’s entire workforce as we move forward in our efforts to rebuild, diversify, and expand our economic base.” Ingham said. “We appreciate the financial commitment that South Plains College and the U.S. Economic Development Administration are making to make this vision come true. This is a critical step forward in our community’s efforts to restructure our economy.”
Dr. Sharp said SPC is working with the Plainview Independent School District to provide immediate training opportunities. Plainview ISD has made its Norman Goen Automotive Technology Building, 402 N. Date St., available to set up workforce training programs until the new technology center is completed.
SPC’s Workforce Development Division has begun offering courses in industrial manufacturing, general maintenance technician and safety technician training this month at the Goen Automotive Building. Welding technology training will be available at this site in January.
“I want to thank Dr. Rockwell Kirk (Plainview ISD superintendent) and his staff for partnering with us to jump start this training,” said Dr. Sharp. “We recognize there is an immediate need to provide retraining for displaced workers who need to update job skills to become gainfully employed. We are very appreciative that Plainview ISD has joined us in this endeavor.”
South Plains College expects to break ground for its new technology center within the next 30 days with an expected completion date of September 2014.
For information about the workforce training opportunities currently available at the SPC Plainview Extension Center, contact Paul Henderson, workforce development coordinator, at (806) 716-4320.