With startup funds secured this past week, a project proponents say will be a boon to both the Gadsden County school system and economy is on the cusp of moving from paper to reality.
Gadsden Technical Institute was awarded $357,328 from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to develop a diesel system technician training program for local students dual-enrolled in high school and post-secondary classes at Gadsden Tech. Partnering with Four-Star Freightliner in Midway, the program will afford Gadsden County youth an opportunity to develop skills for medium and heavy-duty trucks and bus service – all in a real-world setting, school officials say.
This, in turn, will give local students a head start obtaining an in-demand, high-paying career, according to program proponents. Gadsden County economic development leaders and Freightliner officials say they consider the partnership with Gadsden Tech a sound investment in the local economy, as well. Combined with Gadsden County’s multiple interchanges along Interstate 10 and other transportation assets, an ample local labor force of skilled diesel techs will make Gadsden County an attractive location for transportation firms and distribution hubs reliant on truck transportation, according to Beth Kirkland, executive director of the Gadsden County Development Council.
Since July, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has received more than 100 applications for Florida Job Growth Fund grants, according to a Gadsden County Development Council news release. The Gadsden Tech diesel program was among just five grant recipients announced earlier this month by then-governor Rick Scott.
“Gadsden Technical Institute is honored to be one of the recipients of the Florida Job Growth Grant,” Gadsden Technical Institute executive director Sylvia Jackson said. “The application of grant funds to develop a Diesel Engine Repair Program represents a partnership between the Department of Economic Opportunity, the Gadsden County School Board, the Gadsden County Development Council, Gadsden Technical Institute, Four Star Freightliner, and Career Source Capital Region to provide much needed training to match Gadsden County community members with career opportunities.”