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Golden LEAF Foundation Awards PCC Grant

College to Partner with Wayne Community College to Help Close 'Mid-Skills Gap'

WINTERVILLE—The Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded Pitt Community College a $900,000-grant to partner with Wayne Community College on enhancing training in mechanical engineering, computer integrated machining, solid works, and automated computer-aided design/drafting.

The grant was one of nine totaling more than $5.7 million that Golden LEAF’s board of directors approved last month as part of the foundation’s Mid-Skills Workforce Training Initiative. The funds will help 14 North Carolina community colleges deliver hands-on training in skill areas that are in demand by the state’s industries. The projects will serve 25 counties across the state and target more than 3,580 employment opportunities identified by industry over a 2-3 year period.

Many firms nationwide are having difficulty finding workers with the skills required by industry for employment in advanced manufacturing. Recent reports have highlighted the mid-skills gap that exists across the country and the need to take advantage of the recent trend of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

Patrick Clark, plant manager at Cooper Standard’s Goldsboro facility, said the Golden LEAF grant program will help the state’s community colleges address the skill gaps area companies are facing.

“With the intense pressures of global competition, manufacturers must include automation and advanced manufacturing processes in their vision to remain successful in the future,” Clark said. “A major concern facing companies seeking to relocate is the skill level of the employment pool in that local area.

“This grant provides our area the competitive edge by creating knowledgeable and skilled employees and an attractive environment for industry growth,” he continued. “Our most valuable resource is our dedicated and hardworking people, who can create success now given the chance.”

William Clarke, Golden LEAF board chairman, said the Foundation is partnering with the N.C. Community College System on the competitive grants program to assist the state with job creation and help prepare a more skilled manufacturing workforce.

“The Mid-Skills Initiative will help address several issues with manufacturing employment in the state,” Clarke said. “The grants awarded will provide citizens from tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural communities with access to skills training for high wage jobs, connect the state’s industries with the skilled workers they need, and upgrade the capacity of our training institutions.”

Dr. Scott Ralls, president of the N.C. Community College System, said the state’s community colleges appreciate the strong partnership they share with Golden LEAF in addressing economic development issues across North Carolina.

“The new Mid-Skills Initiative will allow selected colleges to focus on capacity, third-party certifications, equipment updates and more – all of which mean better job prospects for our students and a stronger talent pool for North Carolina’s industries,” Ralls said. “Opportunity leading to a better quality of life is what this initiative is all about.”

In addition to approving grant funding for PCC, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded another eight grants to support the following projects:

“The Golden LEAF board of directors created this special initiative with the awareness that North Carolina leads the Southeast in manufacturing jobs, with more than 18 percent of the rural workforce earning $8.5 billion in manufacturing wages,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president. “These projects will help manufacturers, our largest private sector employers, with qualified workers.”

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. It receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state.

Golden LEAF works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,152 grants worth more than $508 million since its inception.

To learn more about applying for a grant, visit www.goldenleaf.org, or call (888) 684-8404.