Students at Belmont College, Washington State Community College, Eastern Gateway Community College, and Zane State College will be able to enhance their education and job preparedness in several fields thanks to funding approved by the state Controlling Board to purchase state-of-the-art equipment.
Through partnerships with area businesses and higher education stakeholders, the campuses were able to secure funding as follows: Belmont, $277,267; Washington State, $303,000; Eastern Gateway, $119,283; and Zane State, $275,450. Governor John Kasich and the legislature targeted $8 million in the state capital budget to assist Ohio’s public universities, community colleges, and career technical centers in providing the most up-to-date education possible in an effort to provide a skilled workforce for in-demand jobs.
The latest round of funding, which totals $5.3 million, will allow for the purchase of equipment in the fields of information technology, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, additive manufacturing, cloud manufacturing, smart business automation, and cybersecurity. The purchases are funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s (ODHE) Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) program.
Local business partners said the funding will help prepare students for in-demand jobs in the region.
“We are very optimistic in our growing partnership with Belmont College to offer a Heavy Equipment Technician Program,” said Melissa Carroll, human resources manager for RECO Equipment Inc. “The Detroit Diesel engine trainer, pneumatic training equipment and tools would be crucial for the success of that program.”
“An equipment investment … will ensure that our future workforce is well prepared to help us remain competitive. We are pleased to see a productive regional partnership that is being supported by the state of Ohio, and we look forward to a long partnership with Washington State as we move into the future,” said Arlen Owens II, manager of maintenance and engineering for PROFUSION Industries.
“In order for our company to remain competitive and relevant, we must evolve with technology and that requires up-to-date training for both future employees and incumbent workers,” said Eric M. Wright with Creative Packaging Inc. in Zanesville. “(The RAPIDS equipment) will allow our company to be more efficient in our processes. It is critical to education and training in our industry.”
ODHE Chancellor John Carey said the RAPIDS program has helped different regions in Ohio address their most pressing workforce needs while preparing traditional and nontraditional students for successful careers.
“When our schools collaborate to secure funding through the RAPIDS program, it gives students more opportunities to succeed while strengthening regional businesses and Ohio’s economy. It’s a win-win,” Chancellor Carey said.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education (formerly known as the Ohio Board of Regents) is a Cabinet-level agency for the Governor of the State of Ohio that oversees higher education for the state. The agency’s main responsibilities include authorizing and approving new degree programs, managing state-funded financial aid programs and developing and advocating policies to maximize higher education’s contributions to the state and its citizens.