Monaca, PA – Community college leaders and industry partners gathered at Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) recently to begin a year-long collaborative project and discuss partnerships for economic development and workforce growth in Pennsylvania and Ohio. CCBC was chosen as the lead and host site for this project due to the College’s leadership for workforce development throughout the tristate region.
The event was the first of three Industry-Informed Infrastructure (I3) Initiative meetings funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Community Colleges of Appalachia (CCA).
Industry partners from Chevron, IBM, Lincoln Electric, NETL, SEDA-COG, Snap-On, and Workamerica participated.
In addition to CCBC, representatives from the following colleges attended: Belmont College (OH), Butler County Community College, Community College of Allegheny County, Eastern Gateway Community College (OH), Pierpont Community and Technical College (WV), and Westmoreland County Community College.
Also attending were Dr. Jim Denova, Vice President of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation; Carol Kilco, Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development; and Eileen Cipriani, Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
The goal of the I3 project is to support strong business and industry connections in order to assist in the creation of a highly skilled talent pipeline for the Appalachian region’s workforce. The project will engage industry with community colleges to expand industry partnerships, enhance technical training, and showcase national models in the oil, gas and hospitality sectors. The initiative focuses on coal-impacted communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.
“Having CCBC chosen as the lead organization in this year-long project for regional industrial organizations and community colleges is an honor. It’s a result of the big things happening in Beaver County and the big ideas taking shape at CCBC in service to the region,” explained CCBC President Chris Reber.
Next month, all of the participating partners will visit Lone Star College in Texas to view their nationally distinctive oil and gas programs, and next spring they will attend a meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss next steps in building robust relationships and collaborations of community colleges and industries in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Recently, CCBC received a $150,000 gift from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to create and lead a tristate consortium of industry leaders, higher education providers, workforce development boards, and others in order to prepare a trained workforce for energy and advanced manufacturing jobs. The grant-funded tristate consortium will bring together higher education providers, economic development organizations, businesses, public non-profits, philanthropic organizations, and development boards from Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Northern West Virginia, and will join the three states with a shared voice, agenda, and organizational model in order to strategically and collaboratively address the burgeoning workforce needs of the region.
The Consortium will be led by an Advisory Committee consisting of members from each of these core areas with the college presidents from CCBC in Pennsylvania, Stark State College in Ohio and Pierpont Community College in West Virginia serving as the consortium’s chairperson on a rotating basis. Dr. Reber will chair the consortium’s inaugural year in collaboration with Laurie Serwinski, Chevron’s Policy, Government and Public Affairs Representative, who will serve as co-chair. General membership will consist of advanced manufacturing organizations, workforce investment boards, colleges and universities, and other educational partners.