The road to recovery is underway as Aransas County moves forward with efforts to revitalize the economy in Rockport-Fulton and surrounding communities. The area first suffered the devastating wrath of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017; and then last year, the coronavirus pandemic hit, further impacting an economy dependent on the tourism industry and the workforce that supports it.
Today, Oct. 7, partners–– including Aransas County, the Aransas County Partnership Economic Development Corporation (ACPEDC), Del Mar College (DMC), the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), U.S. Congressman Michael Cloud (R-District 27) and other government, business and education leaders––announced the establishment of the Aransas County Workforce Development Center and took preliminary tours of the former Little Bay Primary School, which will house workforce training, Continuing Education, Career and Technical Education and academic courses once renovation is completed next year.
The $2,138,731 purchase and renovation of the facility includes funding from a $1.7 million U.S. Department of Commerce EDA grant, along with local private fundraising by Aransas County business leaders.
EDA Regional Director Jorge D. Ayala added by Zoom,“The Economic Development Administration is pleased to support the partnership between Aransas County and Del Mar College to create a new workforce development and entrepreneurship center. This center will provide much needed high-skills training to Rockport and the surrounding area.”
Aransas County and Del Mar College have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the county owning the facility and land while the College operates the workforce development center once renovations are completed next year. The 16,016 square-foot center will include classrooms, labs and additional space and house high-demand marketable skills training for Aransas County and surrounding communities to build a sustainable workforce based on “essential” jobs imperative to residents’ work skills sustainability, entrepreneurial endeavors and career resilience.
The partnership strategically focuses on training that targets occupations identified by the Texas Workforce Commission and Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend that meet Aransas County’s local and regional needs, including programs within health sciences, construction trades, public safety, technology, professional enrichment, adult education and communications.
“The Aransas County Workforce Development Center is the result of effective partnerships at the local, regional and federal levels, and our common goal at this center is to provide workforce development programs. These programs will offer skills training and education that’s unique to the region, in demand by employers and focused on today’s economy. And they’re available to everyone – young adults seeking a career, adults who want to up-skill and re-skill for essential jobs and those who simply want to re-enter the workforce.” Said Lenora Keas, DMC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Keas noted that Del Mar College has long been an educational and workforce training partner in Aransas and San Patricio counties, offering dual credit programs in Ingleside, Aransas Pass and Rockport-Fulton high schools.
Dr. Joshua Garcia, Superintendent of Aransas County Independent School District noted, “We are excited for Aransas County, Del Mar College and the Economic Development Administration partnering to create this Workforce Development Center in our community. This will provide more opportunities for our ACISD students to learn valuable trade skills.”
Project renovation for the Aransas County Workforce Development Center was designed by Turner Ramirez Architects. Aransas County officials anticipate the bidding process to occur in January for contract work for the renovation to start early next year.
Source Viking News/DelMar.edu