PATRICK COUNTY – Patrick County residents wishing to train for careers in high-demand fields such as mechatronics and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), or complete a variety of workforce credentials, won’t have far to go for that training thanks to a grant from the Kathryn B. McQuade Foundation.
The Patrick County Educational Foundation (PCEF) has been planning and partnering with the town of Stuart, Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC), and the Patrick Henry Community College Foundation to bring an expanded community college presence to Patrick County. Recently, the town of Stuart purchased a former Food Lion building that will be converted into the town’s base of operations for fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The town has agreed to allocate and lease 5,000 square feet to PHCC to create a space allowing for on-site training in what are designated as high-demand, occupational growth areas without students having to drive significant distances to the Martinsville campus. Additionally, the flexible workforce training and credentialing space will allow for the employees of potential businesses and industries to be recruited and trained onsite, thus serving as the potential for increased economic development for the region.
Many students in the northern end of Patrick County must typically travel 90 plus minutes one way in order to take advantage of these types of educational opportunities. Not anymore.
The first cohort, group of students began training in October 2017 and completed in April 2018 and boasts a 100 present pass rate for Siemens Level 1 Mechatronics certification. Cohort 2 began training on October 16.
Additionally, several local businesses are already filling several of the allocated spots in the facility. Providing a flexible workforce space where businesses can “drop in” their machines for prospective employees to receive training allows for workers to be ready the day the new business opens its doors. This is expected to provide a much-needed economic development boost to the area.
“We believe that the grant is an important advancement of our goal to bring more education and training to Stuart for the students and working adults of Patrick County for many years to come” said former Governor Gerald Baliles, chair of the Patrick County Education Foundation and native of Patrick County.” He adds, “We will continue our efforts to add other initiatives that will create new economic opportunities for the women and men of Patrick County.”
The grant money will be used primarily for costs associated with cohort 2 training and certifications, marketing and recruitment, and for facility upgrades.
The Kathryn McQuade Foundation was established in December 2013 by Kathryn B. McQuade, a former senior executive with Norfolk Southern Corporation and the Canadian Pacific Railway. The McQuade Foundation believes that by focusing assistance on women and children, everyone in the community will benefit. Providing women with financial aid, job training, education and small business assistance will enable them to rebuild their lives and sustain the advancements to their lives and the lives of their children. Also, providing access to education and beneficial job training to these children will assist the families who struggle to meet these needs.
“We’re very excited to bring world-class training opportunities to the citizens of Patrick County,” said PHCC president Dr. Angeline Godwin. “This is a win for Patrick County. It’s a win for PHCC. And it’s a win for the citizens that will benefit from the economic development a facility of this caliber will bring.”
This expanded community college facility will ensure that residents of Patrick County and the town of Stuart are provided educational, workforce, and economic growth opportunities “right in their own backyard.” An expansion of educational opportunities to the citizens of Patrick County will bring about an increase in the sustainable wages of fathers, mothers, males, females, and future generations. Moreover, the young people of the rural region will be able to complete nationally recognized credentials that they will, in turn, be able to utilize to secure high-wage employment in the county in which they now reside.
Students interested in the program should see Angie Brown at PHCC’s Patrick County Site or call 276-656-0260.