East Central College (ECC) in Union, in partnership with Crawford Electric Cooperative, was awarded a $1 million federal loan for rural workforce development. The loan, which was awarded to ECC by the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Development and Grant Program (REDLG), was announced on July 16, 2016.
East Central College will use the $1 million loan to purchase and rehabilitate an unused event rental space in Union called the Gala Center. The ECC will convert the nearly 30,000-square-foot space into a state-of-the-art job training facility called the Business and Industry Center. The Center is scheduled to open in September 2016.
Expanding Career Education Opportunity in Union
ECC’s job training programs have long been scattered throughout the community, and many of those programs (which have been operating out of leased, not owned, properties) have reached their capacities.
Programs offered by ECC include precision machinery, HVAC, industrial engineering technology, welding, and industrial maintenance. The College’s Center for Workforce Development will also move into the new Business and Industry Center.
When the Center opens in September, those programs will all be housed in the same location. It’s a good location, too: The Center is located near U.S. Highway 50 and Interstate 44, making it an easy place for student and instructors to commute to. Administrators expect that the Center’s combined size and location will allow it to increase capacity for job training programs.
Crawford Electric Partners with East Central College
In order to qualify for the REDLG loan money necessary to expand its job training programs in Union, ECC needed to partner with a local rural utility. That’s where Crawford Electric came in. The utility applied jointly with ECC for the REDLG loan, and it will act as an intermediary between the Department of Agriculture and ECC now that the loan has been announced.
Tony Mallory is the CEO/General Manager at Crawford Electric. He told Electric Co-op Today that the partnership between Crawford Electric and East Central College is a great fit:
“East Central College’s project was a perfect partner for us to facilitate financing through USDA,” he said. “As a rural electric co-op, we’re well acquainted with the benefits of working together to enhance the quality of life in our area. Our commitment to our wider community includes support for education and training that will spur economic development (source).”
Crawford Electric’s commitment to education and training in its community is in direct alignment with your Missouri Electric Cooperatives’ overarching principles and values. In fact, the fifth Principle of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is “Education, Training, and Information.”
About the REDLF Program
REDLG program grants and loans are provided to rural projects across the U.S. through local utilities. Under the REDLG loan program, USDA provides zero interest loans to local utilities which they, in turn, pass through to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. The utility is responsible for repayment to the Agency (source).
About Crawford Electric
Crawford Electric Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy, a national alliance of locally owned, community-minded electric co-ops with high standards of service. Crawford Electric serves almost 20,000 meters along more than 3,300 miles of distribution lines in Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Washington and Dent counties. This is the first Rural Economic Development loan the co-op has facilitated.