SouthernCarolina Alliance Named Challenge Winner
Project to Benefit Industry and Workforce in 6-County Region
SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance has been named as a Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Winner as part of an announcement made August 1st by the Obama Administration. The Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge was created to spur job creation and economic growth in rural regions across the country. SCA is one of thirteen regional groups across the nation to be named challenge winners.
Economic development partnerships and initiatives in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia will receive awards ranging from nearly $200,000 to over $1 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). The winning projects will promote job creation, accelerate innovation and provide assistance to entrepreneurs and businesses in a wide range of industrial sectors, including advanced manufacturing, agribusiness, energy and natural resources, technology and tourism.
The Rural Jobs Accelerator Challenge is a national initiative to support rural partnerships that are critical components to support small businesses. By leveraging local assets, the selected industry clusters and partnerships can do even more to help entrepreneurs and small businesses foster innovation, increase competitiveness and employ highly skilled workers, all of which are critical to long-term economic growth in their regions.
Last year’s 20 challenge winners generated millions in matching funds and their projects are expected to help create hundreds of new businesses and thousands of new jobs.
SouthernCarolina Regional Development Alliance was selected this year for their workforce development project, which centers on a proposed Advanced Nuclear and Manufacturing Skills Academy, to be operated in partnership with the S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The goal of the program is to offer advanced manufacturing skills training beyond the programs currently offered in the area to connect the unemployed and underemployed with current and future jobs in the manufacturing arena.
The project was developed by SCA and SCMEP in response to identified needs in the region. Several recent professional studies have indicated the need for thousands of welders and pipe fitters in the Carolinas and Georgia over the next 5-10 years. In addition, findings among existing industries in the six-county region of SouthernCarolina Alliance and among prospective automotive and aeronautic industries have cited highly qualified welders as the most pressing need in the workforce.
Four types of training have been identified to meet those needs: advanced structural welding, nuclear welding, pipe fitting, and NQA welding inspection. These tracks address the needs of the existing nuclear and metal fabrication clusters, as well as the requirements of the growing aerospace and automotive clusters surrounding the SouthernCarolina Alliance region.
SCA will contract with SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership and a private vendor to provide training and recruitment for the academy, as well as placement for the graduates of the program.
According to SCA President Danny Black, the basic courses currently offered by the most respected and advanced among the local technical colleges offer 20-40 hours of hands-on welding skills training in welding, and the advanced course offers 100 hours of hands-on welding skills training.
By contrast, the basic welding course offered by the Advanced Nuclear and Manufacturing Skills Academy and provided by SCMEP will be 400 hours in a 10-week course with professional, certified instructors. The advanced welding course, which will provide training to satisfy NQA standards, entails 900 hours of instruction in a 23-week course. Candidates for the school will include those who have completed technical college level welding courses and those with basic welding skills who need more hands on instruction and experience in order to qualify for local jobs.
“This award will allow us to design and offer training tailored to our industries’ needs,” said SCA Chairman Johnny Williamson. “The courses will be designed by our local industries so that graduates will not only be able to pass their employer’s qualifying tests, they will be prepared and skilled enough to excel on the job from day one.”
Melissa Steinkuhl, Regional Vice President of SCMEP, said, “The Rural Counties of the SouthernCarolina Alliance will be profoundly changed as a result of this grant. The assistance in funding an Advanced Nuclear and Manufacturing Skills Academy will provide training and opportunity for quality nuclear welding jobs. These jobs, in many ways, provide the foundation for strengthening our communities and our way of life.”
For more information on the program, contact SCA President Danny Black at 803.541.0023. For more information on SouthernCarolina Alliance, please visit the website, www.SouthernCarolina.org
. To learn more about the services provided by SCMEP, please visit the website, www.scmep.org.
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