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New training facility opens

Under a large American flag undulating over the building, the grand opening of the Paul D. Camp Community College Regional Warehouse and Distribution Training Facility got under way on June 12 with perfect weather and heartfelt words.

Instruction at the facility began in 2018 with Forklift, Reach Truck and Clamp Truck Operator and Warehouse and Distribution Foundation programs taught there. The project has been a collaborative effort of many donors and business partners, including the Tidewater News, which gave a portion of its building to accommodate the facility.

Franklin City Mayor Frank Rabil greeted 130 guests, followed by remarks from PDCCC President Dr. Daniel Lufkin. He talked about the collaborative project and what it means to our area.

“In this renovated space — designed and outfitted to replicate a real-world warehouse environment — we not only will be able to customize training to meet local employers’ needs, but more importantly, we will be able to help put people to work in meaningful jobs that allow for career advancement and pay a family-sustaining wage,” he said.

“With the equipment and set up you see here today, we will be able to showcase this facility to potential companies looking to move into our area, and have it serve as a place for site location consultants to visit.”

Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Virginia Port Authority John F. Reinhart talked of the importance of providing job opportunities nearby in order to retain residents. “People can work for local companies (with this facility),” he said. “They can live here and be the fabric of our community.
“This area will continue to grow, and we want to grow smartly with it. On behalf of the Virginia Port Authority, I am happy to have played a small part in this.”

Chief Workforce Advisor to the Governor Megan Healey related how job openings outnumber qualified candidates in Virginia and that we have to think about how to fill not only these jobs but also future jobs. “Many businesses will benefit from this,” she said. “I commend this partnership.”

Andrew Murrell of Franklin, a graduate of several programs taught at the facility, including Forklift, Clamp and Reach Truck, and Employability/Soft Skills, said he’d recommend the program to others. “It gives you the ability to go to a company with all the knowledge and skill you’ll need for the job, and it is right here at home,” he said.

Murrell, who has secured a job at Cost Plus World Market in Windsor, briefly addressed the guests in attendance as well. “I thank Paul D. Camp Community College for giving me a platform,” he told the audience.

Other highlights of the program included a check presentation from President and Chief Executive Officer of Hampton Roads Workforce Council Shawn Avery for the amount of $20,000 for student scholarships. PDCCC Director of Workforce Development Angela Lawhorne said that the project had been a “labor of love.” She presented an award to Mike Renfrow of Virginia International Terminals who served as a leader and, along with his contractors, associates and construction staff, contributed many hours of assistance.

A tour of the facility followed, which included forklift simulators and a forklift demonstration by Murrell.

Low-cost opportunities to earn training at the new facility also were recently announced.

“At the workforce center, we see many students who are job seekers,” said Workforce Development Director Angela Lawhorne. “We are seeing more and more students who want to learn specific skills in a quality program that will train them for work in a shorter amount of time than it takes to earn an associate degree.”

Some of these programs are being taught at the new facility, which is located in the back of the Tidewater News building at 1000 Armory Drive.

Forklift, Clamp Truck and Reach Truck Operator, for instance, is a 15-hour, three-day course. The Warehouse and Distribution Foundations course only takes 40 hours, or one week, and Certified Logistics Associate or Certified Logistics Technician take four weeks each.

“In one week, a student can complete a Career Readiness Certificate, the Forklift, Clamp Truck and Reach Truck class, OSHA 10 certification, and nine hours of employability/soft skills training,” said Lawhorne.

According to Lawhorne, there are several ways for eligible students to receive funding for the courses, thanks to the shared vision of the localities, area businesses and industries, and donors who recognize that fulfilling the gap of skilled workers for area jobs can help the commonwealth as a whole.

“Funds have been donated from supporting events, like the LogistX Games and from other partners for student scholarships,” said Lawhorne. “Money is also available from the FastForward Workforce Credentials Grant and through workforce scholarships.” Additionally, approved programs are eligible for 100 percent payment by Hampton Roads Workforce Council and its Virginia Career Works office.

“Students may also apply for Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative funding, a state-level campaign that includes PDCCC and is aimed to help students in rural communities transition to higher education,” she said.

Students learn skills hands-on in real-life warehouse surroundings that allow them to excel in logistics.

“The skills that the students attain put them in a career-ready position that will fulfill the needs of the supply-chain industry and at the same time, allow them career advancement opportunities and the ability to earn a sustainable wage,” said Lufkin.

For more information about workforce programs, email workforce@pdc.edu or visit pdc.edu/workforce-development.