More than $6M in grants announced for new high-tech workforce training center

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. — Gov. Matt Bevin and Congressman Hal Rogers joined Senate President Robert Stivers Saturday to announce grant funding for a new high-tech workforce training center in Barbourville. The project received over $6 million combined state and federal funding for the KCEOC Community Action Partnership Inc. to construct and develop the facility.

“I am excited today to join Congressman Rogers and President Stivers in making this truly historic announcement for the Knox County community,” said Gov. Bevin. “Federal, state and local funds, coupled with the Forcht family’s generous facility donation, will enable us to build a world-class workforce training center right here in Barbourville. The commonwealth is rapidly becoming America’s center for engineering and manufacturing excellence, and this new state-of-the-art Work Ready Training Center will equip hundreds of additional Eastern Kentucky residents each year for success.”

The Work Ready Training Center will be housed in the former Barbourville Nursing Home facility, which was donated by Terry and Marion Forcht to be retrofitted for the project, saving the community time and resources. The new center will provide trade, certificate and post-secondary education opportunities in high-demand career sectors such as healthcare, technology, advanced manufacturing and transportation/logistics. Programs will be supported and administrated by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.

“When you consider aging buildings like the former Barbourville Nursing Home, it can be difficult to reimagine the future of that facility and how it can benefit the community once again. However, that former nursing home will now soon be a hub for new life-changing skills and education that will impact thousands of local students and families, thanks to visionary leaders like Paul Dole, judge executive Mike Mitchell, Vic Adams, Bob Mitchell, Terry and Marion Forcht, as well as Governor Bevin,” said Rogers. “I applaud Terry and Marion Forcht’s generous donation of the building to fast-track progress on this much-needed training center. Our best days are ahead of us in Eastern Kentucky, and this facility will soon ensure the people of Knox County have the skills necessary for new jobs and industry in the future.”

The partnership between federal and state agencies resulted in more than $6 million in grant funding for the center, including $1.8 million from the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet’s Work Ready Skills Initiative, $1.5 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission and an additional $3 million in federal funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. KCEOC will provide a local match to complete the project.

“I’m proud of the efforts of the General Assembly during the 2016 Regular Session to ensure that this project was funded,” said Stivers. “Initiatives like this are why Kentucky is now home to some of the most crucial business industries in the world. The ability to strengthen our workforce by better preparing our citizens to tackle the needs of these companies is paramount to the future success of our state. This will have a lasting positive impact on Eastern Kentucky and the commonwealth as a whole.”

“The Work Ready Skills Initiative is an excellent example of how Kentucky continues to shape the current and future workforce to be competitive in a global economy,” said Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey. “Kentucky has committed $100 million to ensure communities across the commonwealth are able to provide the modernized training and education that will equip Kentuckians with the skills to earn sustainable incomes in high demand career sectors.”

The 37,000-s.f. center is expected to create 10 full-time jobs for faculty and staff, and will serve more than 1,000 students and trainees wishing to pursue new career opportunities or build upon existing skill sets. The programs will be employer-driven to meet demand and are expected to be offered in a “fast-track format” to allow students to be employed quickly upon earning their degrees or certificates.

“ARC Power funding offers Kentucky an opportunity to diversify the workforce of this region for today’s in-demand skills needed to attract new business and earn top dollar wages,” said Department of Local Government Commissioner Sandra Dunahoo. “Work Ready Training Centers such as this play a vital role in the attraction of new jobs to the area.”

Since the start of the Bevin administration, Kentucky has experienced more than $22 billion in new corporate investment. In 2018, 71 percent of new corporate investment projects announced in Kentucky were in the manufacturing sector, a key focus of the new Barbourville center.

“The Work Ready Training Center has been a long term dream of our Workforce staff to have this facility here in Knox County,” said Paul Dole, president and CEO of KCEOC Community Action Partnership. “It is expected that Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College will serve over 1,400 students the first three years at this new facility. KCEOC Community Action Partnership, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and EKCEP are providing a game changer for Southeastern Kentucky to have a highly skilled workforce that employers will want to come here for.”

The Work Ready Training Center is expected to begin enrolling students in 2020.

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