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Texoma’s Advanced Manufacturing Program received $153,000 in donations and grants on Monday. The program, which was initiated in 2016, places area high school students in a series of classes and internships as a way to provide them with the skills and certifications needed for manufacturing careers.
A $5,000 donation from Denison Industries, $8,000 from Champion Cooler and $40,000 from Emerson combined to achieve the necessary funds for an additional $100,000 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. The $100,000 grant was presented alongside the other three checks.
“We are very serious about making sure that students here have jobs in the future,” TWC Director of Employer Initiatives Aaron Demerson said the work being done at Workforce Solutions Texoma. “What they are doing here in terms of visionary is going to make sure the jobs are there when you guys are trained up and ready to go into that position.”
Previous contributors to the program include local companies Eaton B-Line, Ruiz Foods and Presco Products. Funds have been collected to work toward a combined $200,000, which resulted in the additional $100,000 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.
The Advanced Manufacturing Program places area high school students in the program during their sophomore year, when they take introductory classes on their respective campuses, before moving over to Grayson College full-time for more advanced courses. Grayson College broke ground on its Advance Manufacturing Lab earlier this year and the funds collected will go toward the $696,000 cost of outfitting the facility with industry-grade tools and machinery.
Consortium Chair and Emerson Process Management Plant Manager Mark Anderson said the program is growing rapidly.
“Making sure that we create skilled employees going forward is a big part in making sure we stay viable for the future,” Anderson said. “In the next decade, we are going to need 3.5 million additional employees. This is why we’re here today. We want to make sure Texoma is a place to work for the next 100 years and we’re leading the way.”
Organizations involved in the program include employers in the Texoma Advanced Manufacturing Consortium, the Sherman Economic Development Corp., the Denison Development Alliance, Workforce Solutions Texoma, Grayson College and multiple high schools. The 42 students currently enrolled in the program have all been assigned an individual mentor from local businesses.
“They will be working with them to make sure they’re successful,” Anderson said. “The dedication of this consortium to make sure students succeed in this is immeasurable. We want to make sure these kids have the best chances going forward.”
The National Association of Manufacturers has said manufacturing contributed $2.2 trillion to the economy in 2016. This means approximately 12 percent of the gross domestic product comes from the manufacturing industry. There are 12.3 million manufacturing employees in the U.S., which makes up 11 percent of the country’s workforce.