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Blinn board approves matching funds for proposed training center

Center would allow Blinn to introduce industrial machinery, truck driving and heavy equipment training programs

June 10, 2015

Blinn College will play a key role in a new facility that would support displaced workers and strengthen the Washington County workforce in the wake of more than 500 local layoffs.

Blinn’s Board of Trustees authorized a total of $100,000, including $50,000 in funding and $50,000 in equipment, to be included as part of local efforts to match federal grant funds in an application led by the Brenham Economic Development Foundation (EDF). If efforts are successful, up to $1.5 million in funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s 2015 Economic Development Assistance Programs could be used to fund a new workforce and technical training center beside Blinn’s A.W. Hodde, Jr. Technical Education Center.

The board also offered support for Dr. Ana M. “Cha” Guzmán, interim district president, as she meets with companies to identify specific needs and drafts an action plan for aiding local job seekers.

“Blinn College and Washington County have a long history of supporting one another in times of need,” Guzmán said.

“We’re proud that we can offer skills training solutions that will not only help local job seekers, but encourage new industries to come to Washington County and enjoy the benefits of a highly-skilled workforce.”

The Brenham Community Development Corp. has already pledged $250,000 and land valued at $100,000 for the new center, and Washington County commissioners have committed $50,000. Brenham EDF has already received a letter supporting its grant application from U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has pledge his support for the project.

Under the proposal, funds would go toward the design, engineering and construction of an additional training center. Blinn has agreed to handle daily operations of the new training center as an extension of the Hodde Center, saving administrative costs and doubling the training capacity of the 12,000-square foot A.W. Hodde, Jr. Technical Education Center, located in the Brenham Business Park at 2910 South Blue Bell Road. The new facility would include multi-purpose classrooms, labs and training space.

Blinn would lease and operate the completed facility for up to 20 years and will develop new programs to support the high skill/high growth occupations in the region, including industrial machinery mechanics, commercial truck driving and heavy equipment operation. To support truck drivers and heavy equipment operators, a program in diesel engine mechanics will also be developed. According to the U.S. Census, approximately 45 percent of the Washington County workforce lacks any certifications or training beyond high school.

“The best way to strengthen our local economy and support local families is by diversifying the skills of the local workforce and offering training opportunities for job seekers to enter high-demand career fields,” said Megan Costanza, dean of Workforce Education. “This program would help us introduce new, high-skill programs that will help local families get back on their feet.”

Managed by Blinn’s Division of Workforce Education, the Hodde Center currently operates at capacity, offering a variety of career development and leadership courses as well as programs and courses in computers, health professions, manufacturing, welding and safety.

Blinn’s Division of Workforce Education improves the local economy by helping job-seekers obtain the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the workplace, and by partnering with local businesses to offer training opportunities for incumbent and new employees. For more information on Blinn’s Workforce Education opportunities, including class schedules and registration information, visit www.blinn.edu/workforce.

About Blinn College
A comprehensive community college committed to educational excellence and to individual and community enhancement, Blinn College has served its 13-county Central Texas region since 1883. With an enrollment of 19,317 students, Blinn ranks among the nation’s leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for affordable educational excellence.

Blinn offers job seekers the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the region’s fast-growing industries, and partners with local businesses to provide skills development training for incumbent employees. Each year, Blinn programs and students make a $345.3 million impact on the local economy.

For more information about Blinn College and exciting student success initiatives such as Destination Success: First-Year Focus and the Blinn TEAM Program, visit www.blinn.edu or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.