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North Carolina Appalachian Community Colleges Receive $300,000 ARC Grant for Green Workforce Training

August 2010


WASHINGTON, August 4, 2010—North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue, U.S. Congressman Heath Shuler, and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl announced a $300,000 grant today to the Southwestern North Carolina Planning and Economic Development Commission to assist three Appalachian community colleges in developing a green workforce training program.

The announcement of the grant was made during a press conference convened by ARC at Western Carolina University. The grant will be matched by another $494,000 in local funding, for a total of $794,000 to develop the training program. Some 400 students are anticipated to enroll in the program at Haywood, Southwestern, and Tri-County Community Colleges.

The training curriculum will include civil engineering, sustainable technology, green weatherization and retrofitting, biofuel production, sustainable horticulture, and hybrid automotive technology.

Perdue welcomed the new training program: "The green economy is critical, I think, to all of our state as we look at future jobs in the twenty-first century. We understand that we have to create the green workforce to provide services to our businesses and our citizens. There is nothing more important in my mind to the long-term quality of life than for all of us to be committed to greening up our environment."

Gohl praised the collaborative nature of the project, noting that "it is not often that we have three community colleges working with a local development district." This kind of "unique and very critical" partnership, he said, would "help bring about a workforce that is much more competitive and able to respond to the jobs of the future." He noted that it represented "one more step in the development and implementation of the clean energy economy of North Carolina."

Shuler said that "the ARC money will help us develop the workforce that's needed to not only create jobs here but also to bring jobs that are now being sent overseas, to western North Carolina." As a result, he noted, "we'll have the workforce to be able to recruit companies to this region."

Southwestern North Carolina Planning and Economic Development Commission executive director Bill Gibson received the $300,000 check on behalf of the commission. "This project is a chance for the Appalachian Regional Commission to help provide incentives for the growth of the green energy, renewable energy, and clean energy economy of western North Carolina vis-a-vis equipment and training resources for our three community colleges," he said.

Scott Ralls, president of the North Carolina Community College System, said the project will "make our workforce competitive in the important areas of clean technology and energy efficiency." Newly trained workers will benefit "not just by the skills that they develop but also by the economic opportunities that will be brought to regions such as this."

Also in attendance at the press conference were Rose Johnson, president of Haywood Community College; Donna Tipton-Rogers, president of Tri-County Community College; and Janet Burnette, vice president of Southwestern Community College.