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Grant funding aims to boost area job skills

Copiah-Lincoln Community College will benefit big from a grant designed to foster job skills training.

     Co-Lin will split the $14.7 million grant with a group of eight other community. Co-Lin’s share comes to about $886,000.

     The school’s board of trustees approved acceptance of the grant at their Thursday afternoon meeting.

     With the grant funds, Co-Lin will target displaced and unemployed workers with new job skills training in the fields of information technology and industrial technology, said Co-Lin President Dr. Ronnie Nettles.

     “It involves personnel, possibly new, focused on this group, guiding them through training and job placement,” Nettles said.

     Classrooms used in the grant-funded job training program will also be modernized, according to a press release by the school.

     Program classes begin in the fall of 2013.

     Partnering with other colleges proved an essential element of the grant.

     “By joining the consortium, that helped us get the grant,” Nettles said, explaining that the school had unsuccessfully applied for the grant individually in previous years.

     Nettles hopes the partnering schools will be able to compare the programs they implement to better determine what’s effective.

     The consortium includes schools in Mississippi and Louisiana, among them Meridian Community College, Pearl River Community College and Bossier Parish Community College.

     The funds come through a federal program created by the Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (the “stimulus” act).

     The grant program was originally designed to retrain workers affected by offshoring and other competition from foreign influences, Nettles said. However, the program has broadened to include workers displaced by other factors in the job market.

     Nettles also briefed board members on some other grant-funded activity at the school. Board members recently accepted grant money to encourage healthy living.

     Using those funds, the school is seeking bids to resurface the walking track at Stone Stadium. Plans call for work to begin in the spring after football season ends, Nettles said.

     The new track surface will only be built for walking rather than track and field sports.

     “That’s all it’s being used for right now,” Nettles said.

     Speaking about the new projects and programs coming to Co-Lin, Nettles praised the efforts of administrators and faculty to find and apply for grants.

     “We’ve brought in over $1 million in new money this year,” Nettles said.