Grant supports new automotive training center at Del Tech

From left, U.S. Sen.Tom Carper; Bobbi Barends, Vice President and Campus Director for Delaware Tech’s Owens Campus; Delaware Tech President Mark Brainard and EDA Regional Director Linda Cruz-Carnall.

GEORGETOWN – U.S. Senator Tom Carper on Friday joined Delaware Technical Community College President Dr. Mark Brainard and Sussex County Economic Development Director William Pfaff to announce a $1.97 million grant awarded to the DTCC’s Georgetown Owens Campus to build a new automotive training center.

Senator Carper, (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, helped secure the grant through a competitive U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant program.

The project includes construction of a 13,500 square-foot Delaware Technical Community College Automotive Center of Excellence that will include two classrooms, a tool room, two training garages, and other related capacities.

It is expected to create or protect nearly 90 jobs and generate $1.5 million for the state’s economy.

“One of the most important things we need to do to continue to grow our economy is to make sure we are providing hard-working Delawareans the training they need to fill the jobs of tomorrow,” said Sen. Carper. “Years ago, I heard from auto dealers about the need for highly-skilled technicians, but that a serious investment in training was badly needed in order to develop the workforce. Since then, I’ve been fighting for this critical funding, and I am thrilled that we have finally secured what will be a direct investment in the First State’s future.”

“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 76,000 mechanics will be needed every year to fill available positions,” said Sen. Carper. “We have an obligation to seize on this clear opportunity and make sure that technicians are trained and certified to adapt and fill these good-paying jobs. This nearly $2 million grant to build a brand new, state-of-the-art automotive training center at Del Tech will create jobs in our state, strengthen our economy, and invest in the future of Delaware workers, and I’m so proud of the whole team that worked to make this a reality.”

“Our mission is to respond to workforce needs in this state,” said Dr. Brainard. “There is a dire need for diesel mechanics, and this training facility will help us fill those jobs with Delawareans. I want to thank Sen. Carper for his diligent and tireless work to help us secure this grant, and I also want to thank the generous local donors who stepped up to support this initiative.”

“Sussex County is proud to be a partner on this journey to make the Automotive Center of Excellence a reality for Delaware Tech and for those looking for a rewarding career in the automotive industry,” said Mr. Pfaff. “Today’s automotive industry is so technologically advanced, and miles beyond what many of us remember when it came to the maintenance needs of the cars and trucks of our parents and grandparents. This program will help to ensure Sussex County has the most qualified, well-trained workforce possible in the automotive field of today and beyond.”

Terry Megee, owner of Floyd A. Megee Motor Company in Georgetown, addresses the crowd at the EDA Grant Announcement. Terry and Vanessa Megee were leaders in the effort to raise matching funds needed for the grant.

The total cost to build the ACOE is $3 million, and the grant covers 65 percent of the construction. The following organizations and individuals have pledged donations that enabled the college to secure the 35 percent match required by the EDA:

  • the state of Delaware
  • Sussex County Council
  • Floyd A. Megee Motor Company
  • i.g. Burton & Company
  • Preston Auto Group
  • USDA – Rural Development
  • Winner Automotive Group
  • Carman Auto Group
  • First State Chevrolet
  • Willis Ford
  • Chevrolet of Dover
  • Matt Slap Subaru
  • The Volvo Group
  • AutoTeam Delaware
  • Bumpers and Company
  • Matt Kehoe
  • Meineke of Lewes
  • Nancy Jo and William Pepper
  • Delaware Automobile and Truck Dealers’ Association

Labor market data indicates more than 3,000 automotive technicians and more than 800 diesel mechanics are employed across Delmarva with average annual earnings of $39,874 and $44,595, respectively.

Over the next 10 years, the region is projected to have 3,278 openings for automotive technicians due to retirements, job turnover and a 7 percent growth rate. Nine hundred forty-eight job openings are expected for diesel mechanics in the same period due to retirements, job turnover and a 17 percent growth rate.

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