Gaston College was announced as the recipient of a $1.5 million grant from the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA) on Monday.
The funding will go toward the construction of a new “Center for Advanced Manufacturing” building, as well as the renovation of the Pharr Trade and Industrial Center, on the college’s main campus in Dallas, according to a White House Press Office release.
Expected to — based on grantee estimates — help create 160 new jobs and spur $50 million in private investment, the project is intended to provide job-training programs that are focused on the area’s clean energy, sustainable manufacturing and other high-growth industries.
The training has the goal of both preparing students for high-wage occupations and ensuring current employees have the necessary skills for advancement in those industries.
“Gaston College is honored to serve the citizens, businesses and industries in Gaston and Lincoln counties by providing critical educational opportunities that help create and maintain a well-trained workforce,” said Dr. Patricia Skinner, president of Gaston College. “We are grateful that the Economic Development Administration has found merit in our proposed Center for Advanced Manufacturing and has chosen to partner with the college as we strive to have an even greater impact in our region.”
“The advocacy provided by Sen. Kay Hagan during the review phase of our proposal for the expansion of workforce-training initiatives was instrumental for a successful outcome, and we are grateful for her continued support of Gaston College and our community,” she added.
Hagan said in a statement that one of her top priorities is making sure the state is on the cutting edge of new technology.
“This grant will ensure that Gaston College has the capacity to provide workers and students with the skills needed to work in advanced manufacturing and in our state’s growing clean-energy sector,” Hagan said.
She noted that the funding will also help save 25 positions at the college.
The EDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, also announced two other grants impacting North Carolina on Monday afternoon, including one for Winston-Salem State University and the S.G. Atkins Community Development Corporation to expand an existing business-incubation program and another for Halifax County to construct a rail extension.
In total, $4.1 million of grant funding will be pumped into the state’s economy to support business development and job growth, with the creation of 810 new jobs and $172 million attracted in private investment anticipated, the White House release said.
“The EDA investments announced today will provide North Carolina with critical transportation infrastructure, expanded business-incubation services and job-training programs that will support the state’s future economic growth,” U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine said in a statement.
EDA grants are awarded through a competitive process based upon the application’s merit, the applicant’s eligibility and the availability of funds.
In addition to Gaston College’s Dallas campus, the community college also has locations in Lincolnton and Belmont.