Texarkana College Receives Grants from Texas Workforce Commission and Alcoa Foundation for Industrial Maintenance Training

Julian Alvarez, Commissioner, Texas Workforce Commission

Today Texas Workforce Commissioner Julian Alvarez presented a check for a Skills Development Fund grant in the amount of $109,581 to Texarkana College to fund critical technical training needs for the restart of production at Alcoa’s Texarkana plant.

Through this grant opportunity, Texarkana College will work with local Alcoa employees to provide critical technical training in industrial manufacturing maintenance, electrical high voltage training and mobile crane operations. TC will also train employees in OSHA general safety procedures and help some employees with computer applications skills. Grant funds also provide Alcoa with new OSHA-standard safety equipment and supplies.

“The regional economic impact of this grant is $6.3 million,” said Alvarez. “This is truly a win-win situation for everyone in the community.”

The ceremony took place at the newly reopened Alcoa plant in Nash, Texas, which has been idle since 2009. When Alcoa reopened in 2016 and hired close to 80 employees, Texarkana College coordinated all re-employment testing and start-up training. Pete Velotas, Director of Operations for Alcoa Mill Products, said the grant will help build employees’ skills and knowledge while helping them maintain a safe working environment.

“Everything’s moving more and more to computers and computer manufacturing,” said Pete Velotas, Director of Operations for Alcoa Mill Products. “It’s not the brawn as much as the technology. So we’re going to need people on the mechanical side and electrical side who can work on that equipment and troubleshoot it. This grant will help fund their training.”

Harry Kiskaddon, President, Alcoa BCI; Pete Velotas, Director Operations, Alcoa Mill Products; Katie Andrus, Executive Director, Texarkana College Foundation; Jeff Teague,­ Plant Manager, Alcoa Texarkana; Jim Charnitz, VP of Alcoa BCI Business Unit; James Henry Russell, President, Texarkana College

In addition, the Alcoa Foundation presented a $40,000 check to the Texarkana College Foundation for the advancement of Texarkana College’s new industrial maintenance program, enabling the purchase of a state-of-the-art hydraulic training system. The new training tool will provide Texarkana College students and incumbent employees in manufacturing the opportunity to learn about maintenance on all types of hydraulic units.

“The Alcoa Foundation grant for the LabVolt Hydraulic Training System will allow the College to hone its industrial technology training to meet the specific needs of all local industries,” said Jim Charnitz, Vice President of Alcoa BCI business unit. “This type of training helps students qualify for the high-tech jobs of the future here in Texarkana.”

Texarkana College President James Henry Russell said the grants from the Texas Workforce Commission and the Alcoa Foundation will help the College strengthen its position as a valuable resource for industry training.

“We could not be more proud or grateful to stand here with all of you today to help Alcoa ramp up to meet the increased demand for production of aluminum slab for the automotive industry and other industrial markets,” Russell said. “Our goal at TC is to prepare students for good jobs at companies like Alcoa and to make sure those companies are able to hire employees who have the best possible training in their fields.”

The Skills Development Fund is Texas’ premier job-training program providing local customized training opportunities for Texas businesses and workers to increase skill levels and wages of the Texas workforce. The Texas Workforce Commission administers funding for the program. Success is achieved through collaboration among businesses, public community and technical colleges, Workforce Development Boards and economic development partners.

Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S. with assets of approximately $480 million. In 2015, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering.

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