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Education

Hillsborough Community College receives federal grant

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 01:38 PM
TAMPA -

It's a job you've probably never heard of — computer numerically controlled machinist.

But Florida's manufacturing industry is in critical need of workers who can perform it, and with the help of federal funding announced Wednesday, Hillsborough Community College will provide the training.

The $842,317 grant for HCC is part of $2 billion in U.S. Department of Labor grants to develop and expand community college training programs to link students with local employers who need to hire well-trained workers.

"HCC is extremely pleased to be a recipient of the DOL grant," said Ken Atwater, president of HCC. "This grant enables us to create an accelerated certification program that will benefit those unemployed and underemployed with the advanced skills necessary to put them back to work."

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis was at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater on Wednesday to announce the second round of grants, about $500 million awarded to almost 300 community colleges across the country.

"With this investment in education, community colleges will provide the skills training that will prepare students for jobs in fields, such as manufacturing, where demand is expected to be high," said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor in a prepared statement.

"That will result in more employment opportunities for students in the Tampa Bay area. Partnerships such as this create a job pipeline for students into local businesses. This grant couldn't come at a better time for our students and our economy."

HCC sought the grant as part of the Florida Transforming Resources for Accelerated Degrees & Employment (TRADE) consortium. Other TRADE members are the Manufacturers Association of Florida, the Employ Florida Banner Center for Advanced Manufacturing and local workforce boards and businesses.

TRADE targets Florida workers who have lost their jobs or are in danger of doing so, veterans and others in need of training.

Computer numerical control machinists use a computer program to direct movements of a lathe or mill to cut in a precise way. HCC students will receive virtual training using emulators and robotics, said Ginger Clark, director of HCC's technical programs.

HCC expects to purchase and install the equipment by late fall, said spokeswoman Ashley Carl.

The federal grants also support programs in transportation, health care, science, technology, engineering and math.

Also on Wednesday, the University of South Florida announced it will receive $1 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce for the Tampa Bay FirstWaVe Venture Center. The money will support new Internet and mobile app companies in the Tampa area, said Vickie Chachere, USF spokeswoman. An estimated 245 high-wage jobs will be created at the center, which will connect mentors with startup companies and then help them flourish.

The center will be in downtown Tampa and initially serve eight nearby counties and about 50 new business ventures.

"You often hear that Florida says it's open for business," said USF President Judy Genshaft in announcing the grant at her annual back-to-school speech Wednesday. "Well, what I say is USF is open for innovation."

The award was funded through the i6 Challenge, a multiagency competition led by the commerce department's office of innovation and entrepreneurship.


dkoehn@tampatrib.com (813) 259-8264
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