A grant of $860,000 from the Golden Leaf Foundation will support manufacturing training programs in western North Carolina as well as a full-time STEM education coordinator in Swain County Schools to assist high school students in pursuing a career in a STEM field. A second grant of $470,000 — which SCC will share with Tri-County Community College — will pay for advanced manufacturing training equipment for the Swain County Regional Business Education and Training Center. In addition, a grant of $250,000 from the Duke Energy Foundation will be used to equip SCC's Jackson campus for certificate, diploma, and degree programs in computer engineering, electronics/electrical tech, and robotics.
Other partners in the effort include ConMet, DuoTech Services, TekTone, Franklin Tubular, Jackson Paper, Caterpillar, Hometex, and Shaw Industries. SCC president Don Tomas said the three grants mark the first three phases of an effort to close skills gaps identified by industry in the area. "We're excited about the partnerships we've created and communication lines we've opened," said Tomas. "Receiving these grants is a game-changer for SCC and our service area."
"Think about the kids coming through high school right now who are wondering what they're going to do with their lives," said ConMet general manager Chris Davis. "They have an option to get more technical training right here. That's going to allow us to stay here five, ten, fifteen, twenty years or longer."