Kilgore EDC contributed $80,000 to buy state-of-the-art equipment at the new dual-credit welding facility in Kilgore High School. “Our board feels that a well-educated and skilled workforce is one of the most important ingredients of an economic development program,” KEDC President Pat Nault said. “An educational pipeline is important for an economy.”
The Texas Workforce Commission presented a Skills Development Fund grant for another $217,000 to Kilgore College to complete the program’s wish list for equipment.
The dual credit program is a natural complement to another KEDC workforce initiative, the Advanced Technology Center.
It’s a common sense solution to improving workers’ job skills, elected officials say.
It’s the next, logical step, to educators.
It’s poised to provide badly-needed, custom-tailored skills, according to local employers.
The ATC houses the Kilgore College Advanced Welding Academy, which is expected to be the first of several training initiatives. Taking input from numerous sources and sectors throughout the community, the facility is set to deliver a customized job training program to prepare workers with the advanced skills needed by the area metal fabrication industry. The 24,000 square-foot building is owned by Kilgore EDC and, for now, staffed by Kilgore College instructors in its first, active phase.
G.H. ‘Bo’ Steding is one of the advisory board members for the AWA and is general manager for Drilltools, a Kilgore company that manufactures drilling and excavating tools for the civil construction industry.
“We were very interested in the fact that we could help foster a technology training center such as this,” the Drilltools general manager explained. That investment, Steding said, is taking Kilgore College students and other amateur-welders in the area and ensuring the human-commodity finds the best possible use – in Kilgore – that helped sell him on the idea of the Advanced Technology Center. “That’s how this evolved: not to continually try to recruit but basically to try to grow within the community and the area.”