Mountwest Community & Technical College: Constructing a Greener Future in WV

ARC’s POWER Initiative has invested millions to connect Appalachia’s students and workers with careers in emerging, high-growth industries – one of which is construction. This sector is struggling to find qualified workers to keep up with increasing demand. Furthermore, Appalachian communities continue to be faced with the lack of affordable housing and loss of jobs due to the downturn in the coal industry.  

With a nearly $1.5 million POWER grant from ARC, Mountwest Community & Technical College (MCTC) will not only work to close these gaps, but also do so through innovative, eco-friendly, and cost-effective construction solutions.  

Innovative Education Solutions

In partnership with Hope Nation and Rhema Developments, MCTC will launch an Engineered Construction Associate’s Degree program. The two-year degree program is the first of its kind in West Virgnia and is especially unique because of its built-in certification for structurally engineered panels (SIPs) fabrication and construction. SIPs are an innovative construction material combining structural and insulative elements into a single component, drastically reducing construction times and yielding energy efficient buildings.  

“These types of partnerships are crucial to the future development of the state of West Virginia. Mountwest is excited to be one of many organizations taking an active role in revitalizing our coal impacted communities.” – Mesha Shamblin, Vice President of Institutional Advancement & Human Resources 

Along with their ARC grant, MCTC will receive a cash-match of $250,000 from the Benedum Foundation to hire a Project Director and an Assistant Instructor to provide additional support for students.  

Meeting Workforce and Housing Needs

During their three-year ARC grant period, MCTC expects to serve up to 75 students across six counties and provide guaranteed employment upon program completion. They also expect to build up to two custom homes through hands-on training for the initial cohort. Better yet, the program is expected to continue after grant completion, paving the way for a steady output of working professionals who are certified in SIP construction. All participants will be equipped with invaluable skills in a high-value industry, and ultimately meet critical needs in communities through their work. 

ARC is proud to partner with MCTC on this forward-thinking solution tackling the complex intersection of unemployment, housing shortages, and lack of eco-friendly construction in coal-impacted areas.  

Learn more about the $54 million ARC’s POWER Initiative awarded to coal-impacted communities in October 2023. This is the largest single POWER investment package since the initiative’s launch in 2015.