An already widely-recognized program offered by Sampson Community College in partnership with area industries has earned yet another accolade – this time a state award, the first of its kind, touting the college’s innovation.
“It is my pleasure to inform you that the Sampson Community College Partners for Ammonia Refrigeration program has been selected to receive the 2011 Governor’s Workforce Development Award as an “Outstanding Innovative Partnership,” Gov. Beverly Perdue wrote in an announcement letter to SCC president Dr. Bill Aiken.
“A highly skilled workforce is the key to success in the global economy. North Carolina’s competitive edge depends on the continued commitment of partnerships like the Ammonia Refrigeration Program Partnership that uses innovative strategies and contributions to the improved workforce employment and training opportunities for the state and the community,” Perdue stressed in applauding the college for both the award and its program.
SCC and its partners — Smithfield Foods, Prestage Farms, Butterball LLC, the Golden Leaf Foundation and the North Carolina Community College System — teamed up just over five years ago to develop a program and construct a facility to train workers and potential employees in ammonia refrigeration.
Executives with Prestage, Smithfield and Butterball contacted SCC about establishing the program because of what they said was a critical need for trained and certified technicians in the ammonia refrigeration field. Coupled with that was the additional need for safety and the certification of existing employees.
Golden Leaf provided a $300,000 grant for lab equipment, the Community College System contributed $900,000, and the remainder was donated by partner industries. No county dollars were used for the program.
“I am truly pleased that Sampson Community College has received this award,” said Aiken earlier this week.
“It is especially meaningful since it is the first time the award has been given. The award is yet another example of how SCC has partnered with local industries to meet a critical demand occupation. Sampson Community College continues to distinguish itself as a leader among North Carolina Community Colleges. “
As predicted, Aiken noted, the ammonia program is drawing people from across the country, impacting the local economy along the way. An estimated $600 per week is spent by each student on lodging and food locally, totaling, thus far, a $72,000 impact on the county..
To date, 120 students have had worker skills upgraded through the program. Of the total, 116 were employed, with the remaining seeking employment following certification
The partners named the SCC Ammonia Program as its primary choice for training, and in addition, General Refrigeration and Sara Lee are also involved with training modules being developed for their employees.
The program is young, Aiken asserted in the application for the governor’s award, but it has made great strides in training, student recruitment and employment opportunities.
Richard Schlademan, chairman of the Triangle South Workforce Development Board, touted the ammonia program as a great partnership.
“Our mission(at Triangle South) is to enhance the quality of life for the citizens in our delivery and to ensure that employees and employers have access to all workforce information and services. By Sampson Community College partnering with industries like Smithfield, Prestage Farms and Butterball, we are meeting that need to service all of North Carolina and the country in ammonia refrigeration training,” Schlademan said in his recommendation letter.
“We are encouraged that community colleges like Sampson embrace the time and energy to begin programs that are so rare to our nation. It is truly a testament of the partners and the college in their shared efforts to persevere in getting this project off the ground.”
It is that innovation, Perdue noted, that lifted SCC and its partners above the other applicants in the state seeking the governor’s first Innovative Partner award.
The award will be presented to SCC and its partners on Oct. 13 during a ceremony to be held in Greensboro.