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For Immediate Release


Golden LEAF Awards $470,000 Mid-Skills Grant

Catawba Valley Community College has received a $470,000 Mid-Skills Training Initiative grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation. The grant will provide new and expanded training programs at CVCC in Mechatronics, Certified Production Technician and Certified Logistics Technician to address the newest challenge – shortage of skilled workers.

Funding from Golden LEAF will be used to fill equipment gaps in this programming and hire an instructor dedicated to developing short-term boot camps, as well as semester long classes to meet the needs of local industry over the next three years.  This program will provide opportunities for high school students, recent high school graduates, and current college students to gain “real world experience” through summer boot camps, internships, and apprenticeships.  The program will focus on the worker skills required by advanced manufacturers to operate and maintain automation equipment and systems. Students will have the opportunity to earn industry-based credentials that will lead to employment.

“Manufacturing remains an integral part of our region’s economy,” said Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board Director Sheila Dotson, at nearly 23 percent in the Catawba Valley. “CVCC’s ability to provide more high-skilled workers that earn good wages is certainly a boost to our economy.”

Crystal Glenn, director of CVCC’s Business & Industry Training Division, extended a special thanks to local workforce partners such as the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board. She is eager to begin development of internship and apprenticeship opportunities with local manufacturers.

“Internships allow students an opportunity to lend their talents to companies in exchange for a chance to develop their work skills and gain exposure to a particular work environment,” said Glenn. “In return, employers get an early opportunity to gauge the talents of a new generation of workers and, in many cases, train their future employee.”

“Surprisingly, many workers have overlooked the very real opportunities involved with manufacturing,” said Scott Millar, president of the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation, “and the fact that these hands-on skills, linked up with modern technologies, are ways this area will compete in the global manufacturing future.”

Industry partners who collaborated on the grant application include American Roller Bearing (Alexander Co.), Craftmaster (Alexander Co.), GKN Driveline (fomerly GETRAG), Hickory Chair, Hickory Springs, LEE Industries, Schneider Mills (Alexander Co.), Technibilt, ZF Lemforder, and Fairmont Designs.

Other area agency partners that will be involved in further development of the training and internship opportunities include the Catawba County Economic Development corporation, Department of Workforce Solutions (formerly ESC), Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board, North Carolina Community College System Office, Catawba County Schools, Hickory City Schools, Newton Conover City Schools, Alexander County Schools, and the N.C. Center for Engineering Technology

“The Golden LEAF Board of Directors created this special initiative with the awareness that North Carolina leads the Southeast in manufacturing jobs, with more than 18 percent of the rural workforce earning $8.5 billion in manufacturing wages,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president. “These projects will help manufacturers, our largest private sector employers, with qualified workers.”
About the Golden LEAF Foundation:
The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The foundation receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state. The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,152 grants worth over $508 million since its inception. To learn more about applying for a grant, visit or call (888) 684-8404.

The grant provides resources for the college to purchase additional equipment, such as the MPS (modular production system) system pictured above, which is used to teach mechatronics.



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Updated 10.30.2008: Administrator