Meridian Star

November 20, 2013

UWA receives $100k Delta Regional Authority Grant


The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     LIVINGSTON, Ala.— Governor Robert Bentley and Congresswoman Terri Sewell recently announced the award of a $100,500 grant to the University of West Alabama from the Delta Regional Authority to provide for state-of-the-art automotive technician certification equipment.

    The first semester of the program began in August, but consists primarily of in-class learning experience. Hands-on training is expected to begin and will be made possible by the DRA grant.

    “We are most grateful to the Delta Regional Authority, the Office of Governor Robert Bentley, and the Alabama-Tombigbee Regional Commission for this important investment in expanding the university’s multi-year, multi-million dollar regional advanced manufacturing technology workforce training project to include the automotive technician certification,” said UWA President Richard D. Holland.  “We look forward to launching this in-demand career path program in the spring, 2014 semester, as part of our continued commitment to improving the state of the Black Belt region’s workforce.”

    The automotive technician training certification program fulfills a two-fold goal of the Delta Regional Authority, a federal-state partnership.

    Federally, the program assists in developing a workforce that is educated and well-trained for employment, thereby advancing the productivity and economic competitiveness of the Delta workforce. In addition, the program satisfies the goal set forth by the Alabama DRA Plan to support workforce readiness programs that provide skills necessary to acquire jobs.

    The equipment grant supports the University’s newly-established automotive technician training certification program in the College of Business. The program serves Tier I and II Mercedes suppliers, who are expanding their operations as a result of the concurrent Mercedes $2.4 billion investment expected to add to the plant’s line two additional models.

    J. William “Billy” McFarland, director of the Center for Business and Economic Services and the James Suttles Entrepreneurship Institute at the UWA College of Business, said that the University’s award is the result of a group effort among several organizations.

    In particular, McFarland thanked on behalf of the University Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill, Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall, Alabama Department Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) Director Jim Byard, Jr., as well as ADECA Community and Economic Development Division Chief Bea Forniss, and ADECA Special Projects Coordinator Jimmy Lester for their invaluable leadership and assistance in connection with the grant project award.

    “Thanks to these leaders’ assistance, and to Dr. Richard Holland’s vision for a comprehensive and sustainable state-of-the-art regional workforce development initiative, the university will continue to succeed in our mission to provide state-of-the-art technical training in the Black Belt region.”

    The University’s grant is among only $700,000 awarded in the competitive grant round throughout the entire state.

    For more information on the funded program, contact the Center for Business and Economic Services at (205) 652-5522.