The grant funds, which come from the VCEDA Coalfield Workforce Development and Training Fund, will be used for costs and expenses associated with training equipment, including laboratory equipment, microscopes and casework, as well as costs associated with delivery and installation.
“VCEDA was pleased to approve the funding for equipment for the workforce development and training center operated by Southwest Virginia Community College,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The college’s workforce development and training endeavors help to ready the region’s residents to meet the needs of employers located in or expanding to our area.”
The SWCC Center for Education and Training is located at the Russell County Governmental Center in Lebanon.
In the past, SWCC’s course offerings at the Center for Education and Training have revolved around general education courses, serving as a bridge to future study at SWCC’s main campus in Tazewell County. Beginning with the fall semester, the center focus will include providing complete programs of study.
“SWCC plans to offer several programs that will require dedicated laboratory space, which the center does not currently support,” Dr. Tommy Wright, SWCC president said. “The grant will help with equipping the new laboratory space.”
Dr. Robert Brandon, SWCC vice president of academics, added, “At Southwest, our core values are to provide student-centered learning, to promote student success, to provide access to high paying jobs for our students and to supply qualified workers to our local communities.
“We believe that having laboratory spaces at the Center for Education and Training will help us achieve this mission by allowing training opportunities for high demand and high wage jobs in agribusiness, agriculture and lab technologies,” Brandon added.
Non-credit and career study certificates in agriculture are planned to be offered in the near future at the center. Laboratory capacity for training in biology, chemistry and agriculture will be added which will allow the college the potential to provide programming in agriculture, agribusiness and laboratory tech trainings. It also positions the college to begin coursework in medicinal plant chemistry and other emerging science fields if local economic trends support them.
Currently, there are two part-time employees at the center. The application for funding projected the addition of one full-time job within a year.
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.