Like the rest of the state, Gaston County is facing a shortage of people with the skills required to work in
today's high tech factories. Gaston College hopes to address the issue with a training center for students and local residents. This week, the college received a one-and-a half million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The thinking is that if you build an advanced manufacturing center, you already have the highly skilled workforce a company needs by the time it moves into your city.
The proposed Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Gaston College will train people for jobs like machinists and welders. Donny Hicks is director of the Gaston County Economic Development Commission.
"The type of worker that these companies need is changing," Hicks says. "And they need a more sophisticated, more technically trained worker, so I think long-term, the biggest benefit is, it will allow us to be very aggressive in keeping the companies here satisfied and when we do get to that recruitment phase it should give us a leg-up by having a much more sophisticated facility to do the training specific to that manufacturer's needs."
The total cost of construction is estimated to be about six million dollars. Last September, Gaston County commissioners pledged a little over three million dollars in bonds for the project. With this week's one and a half million dollar federal grant, Gaston College needs to raise another one million dollars in order to start construction.