Paul D. Camp breaks ground on new Workforce center

Published 8:00 am Friday, March 29, 2024

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Suffolk, Virginia —It was a celebratory moment for Paul D. Camp Community College as local and state dignitaries came to break ground for the college’s upcoming Workforce Trade and Innovation Center at the site of what was once Farmer Joe’s on Carolina Rd. 

Following a property donation valued at $1.1 million by Coastal Virginia Developers in August 2023, the center aims to provide industry credential training while helping prepare students for in-demand jobs. The facility will also include programs for maritime trades and infrastructure trade programs. 

Paul D. Camp Community College President Dr. Corey L. McCray called the groundbreaking “monumental” to accomplish their three goals: student success, workforce preparation and community engagement.

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“Today’s groundbreaking of the Workforce Trade and Innovation Center represents a future where this college can better meet students where they are and ensure they are successfully aligned with a high demand career path,” McCray said.

Attending alongside Suffolk City Council, Suffolk Mayor Michael D. Duman thanked Coastal Virginia Developers for donating the property that will result in the 15,000 square foot center.

“The center will strengthen the talent pipeline by providing industry credentials training for high demand, high wage careers to help address critical workforce needs,” Duman said. “These jobs will benefit not only Suffolk, but the Western Tidewater region and well beyond. This expansion of skilled trades, including maritime expertise will support private industry, and most importantly, our nation’s defense.”

Virginia Community College System Assistant Vice Chancellor for Career Education and Workforce Development Randy Stamper gave congratulations to VCCS Chancellor David Doré on the new addition to the college.

“ … Our primary job back in Richmond is to provide support to the colleges so that they can lead the way to this kind of development and to meet the demands of industries across the Commonwealth. And now, colleges provide opportunities for their community members,” Stamper said. 

Stamper further detailed the Fast Forward programs the center will provide their students.

 “ … They afford the quickest, least expensive way for our students to get the skills they need to get good jobs that pay well. Camp Community College has been tailoring and fine tuning its selection of Fast Forward programs to meet the needs of this region since 2016,” he said.

Following the ceremony, McCray commented on his “excitement” about the opportunities for both the college and the community.

“This is a place where people can come and in six to eight weeks, change the trajectory of their lives, through life sustaining kinds of opportunities with the shipyard and beyond,” McCray said. “And so, one of the challenges that we have as colleges is awareness, and if we can continue to make the community aware of these opportunities, I think we can change the lives of people in your community.”

While no date is officially set yet for the center, McCray says they are “pushing” for the ribbon in Spring 2025. Paul D. Camp Community College serves the cities of Suffolk and Franklin and Isle of Wight and Southampton counties.