Sampson Community College has been awarded more than $1 million in grant funding to assist with the construction of a welding and metal fabrication building.
College trustees were informed Monday night of a grant through the United States Department of Commerce in the amount of $1.74 million that will assist in paying for the new welding facility, and allow the college to utilize previous allocated funds for other capital projects.
“This grant will allow the college to re-allocate some of the Connect NC Bond funds to other pressing needs,” Lisa Turlington, SCC Foundation director, said. “Now we can fund more important projects to help train a highly-skilled workforce to this region.”
As part of a $2 billion Connect NC Public Improvement Bond passed almost two years ago, Sampson Community College has been slated to receive $4,774,533 for new construction, repairs and renovations. The bond also invests $980 million into the state’s 17 universities and $350 million to the state’s 58 community colleges.
According to Turlington, the grant will allow the college to use the original bond funds on other capital needs at the college, like the truck driving training facility.
Future projects include a multi-purpose building that will be adjacent to the Activity Center and serve the Basic Law Enforcement Training needs and offer space for student recreation.
The Economic Development Administration grant provides matching funds on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The proposed cost of the welding and fabrication facility is $2.3 million, and the grant allows for $1.75 million to be utilized in other areas, like the truck driver training facility.
Throughout the application process, Turlington said local industry leaders have been instrumental in the grant and meeting the needs of local workforce demands. The welding and metal fabrication building, a 10,000 square foot facility, will allow for the training needed to create 50 jobs and save 24 jobs at local industries.
Hog Slat, Prestage Farms, Dubose National Energy, Smithfield Hog Production, Enviva, Schindler and Robinson and Son Machines have together invested $8.8 million in private funding.
The facility will replace a smaller shop area that is currently housed in a 25-year old metal building and used for welding construction. The current location lacks proper ventilation, adequate instructional space, and cannot be renovated or expanded to adequately support the use of automated and robotic devices.
While the new facility will be located in Sampson County, surrounding counties will also benefit from the expanded facility and training services. Local industries will not only assist in writing the curriculum used to train the workers, but have a larger pool of trained individuals to pull from when hiring, therefore decreasing the local unemployment rate.
“Advanced manufacturing businesses in our region have difficulty hiring and retaining skilled metal workers and will benefit greatly from the investment project,” Turlington said. “The facility will provide classroom and shop space for instruction in industrial skills and access to a state-of-the-art machine shop and industrial trainers.”
According to Turlington, adding the certification opportunities will improve earning potential for the local workforce, and expansion of the program to include robotic welding will prepare students to compete in a workforce of highly skilled laborers.
With funding secure, the college is positioned to immediately proceed with the development of the project. Following designer selection procedures of the North Carolina Office of State Construction (OSC), in an open selection process, the college has previously selected and entered into design contract with JKF Architecture of Greenville.
Design development will be reviewed during October, working drawings will be reviewed by the end of the year and required permits will be obtained in January 2018.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.