DRA Co-Chair Masingill and Governor Bryant Announce Grants in CMPDD Area

DRA Federal Co-Chairman, Chris Masingill (fifth from left) and Governor Phil Bryant (second from left) announce awards of DRA SEDEP to grant recipients. Included in the picture is Jeff Good (far right), President of Soul City Hospitality and a member of the CMPDD Board of Directors.

CMPDD was honored to host Delta Regional Authority (DRA) Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill and Governor Phil Bryant on the grounds of the Farmer’s Market of University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) to announce the 2015 DRA SEDAP grant awards for Mississippi.

UMMC and Soul City Hospitality were awarded $315,080 to complete renovations to a building on the Farmer’s Market grounds to house Up In Arms Food Hub.  This regional food collection, warehouse, packaging, and distribution center will be operated by Soul City Hospitality and will help to bring fresh produce in from the fields of Mississippi and transfer it to households and tables in the state.  The Food Hub will employ five new employees when operational and will create significant economic opportunities for local small farmers, who otherwise would not be able to connect to the distribution network.  CMPDD assisted UMMC and Soul City with the application and will continue to assist with the administration of the grant.

Additionally, Hinds Community College was awarded $200,000 by DRA to prepare for the construction of a multi-building complex to serve as a workforce development and career education train center of excellence. Starting with the site development and preparation activities to be completed within 12 months, SEDAP funds will also allow for the development of a master plan for further site development and construction.  The complex will realize the completion of two classroom buildings within an 18 to 24 month period and establish a long range strategy for the completion of an 7-building campus facility within three to four years.

Prior to August 2015, the Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology Workforce Training program was able to begin training 12 new participants every year.  Industry partners approached Hinds Community College and began conversations about creating a steady flow of qualified, credentialed workers.  A plan has been developed to begin a new, diesel technology job training program every 8 weeks that will train 10 – 12 individuals.  By August, 2016, a steady flow of 10 – 12 credentialed workers will be qualified to enter the diesel or heavy equipment technician program every 8 weeks. The training pipeline of technicians will be fully operational within 18 months of implementation of this new model. When that happens, 60 highly trained technicians will complete training annually.

Because of the foreseen increase in volume of training participants, a larger and more up-to-date facility is needed as current facilities are both obsolete in design and unsuitable to expand through renovation.  To support the training implementation, industry partners have agreed to provide additional funds to the training program.  Empire and Stribling Equipment have committed to fund 4 additional training instructors, 1 full time recruiter, 1 full time navigator, and 1 full time receptionist/assistant for the new facility. Additionally, the industry partners have committed funding to advertising and promotional activities that will assist in recruiting participants to the workforce training program.

The Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) model is a proven approach to propelling unemployed workers, dislocated workers, under-employed workers, and underprepared adult learners to marketable credentials and good jobs. I-BEST’s innovation is the integration of basic skills with knowledge of workplace requirements and technical training. The HCC MI-BEST Works program is founded on this integrated pathway model as a response to workforce and industry needs and opportunities.

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