ASHLAND, Ky. — Kentucky Power recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the Haas eKentucky Advanced Manufacturing Institute (eKAMI). The grant, funded through the Kentucky Power Economic Growth Grant (K-PEGG) program, will enable the purchase of state-of-the-art computer software required to conduct training for eKAMI students.
EKami is a high-tech manufacturing school in Paintsville that provides intense, immersive programming to train students in both HAAS computer numerical control (CNC) machines and robotics in just a few months. Graduating students earn national certifications from the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, Haas and READY Robotics.
Kathy Walker, eKAMI’s founder and CEO, said the mission of eKAMI is to reskill a targeted existing workforce in Appalachia – mostly the skilled but unemployed, and those previously employed in the coal industry – and to attract new industry to eastern Kentucky with a qualified employees skilled in high-tech manufacturing.
“It’s a dynamic industry that changes daily,” Walker said. “Kentucky Power is a valuable partner in this initiative, because the company’s leadership understands this and the fact that the entire nation is experiencing a shortage of highly skilled workers. To compete and advance, we need to have a workforce trained to meet the demands of 21st-century high-tech skills.”
The computer software needed to teach such skills is not your basic laptop; the manufacturing industry’s choice Mastercam software requires hard drive components that far exceed the capabilities of most personal computers. The K-PEGG grant will allow for the purchase of 40 new computers which will provide years of training for future classes of eKAMI students.
“I believe that any investment made in eKAMI provides a long-term benefit for the commonwealth,” said Amanda Clark, external affairs manager. “Because of this school, a workforce already trained in high-tech manufacturing that eludes most of the nation, is right here in eastern Kentucky. That means first-class manufacturing businesses and companies looking for a place to call home will bring their high-paying jobs here where those jobs will be easy to fill with highly trained and capable employees. It’s a positive economic impact that is much needed in our Appalachian communities.”
The KPEGG program assists in the funding of economic development programs that promote the creation and retention of manufacturing and/or industrial investment and jobs. The program is a partnership between Kentucky Power and its customers. Commercial and industrial customers contribute $1 monthly; and company stockholders match the customer contributions to generate nearly $800,000 annually for investment at the local and regional levels. The program is available in all 20 counties served by Kentucky Power.
Grant applications are reviewed by a committee comprised of employees and delegates of the Kentucky Association of Economic Development and the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet. More information is available at kentuckypower.com/development.