Golden LEAF announces grants to area community colleges

Press release

from Golden LEAF Foundation

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors recently awarded 9 grants totaling $5,723,130 through its Mid-Skills Workforce Training Initiative to help 14 community colleges deliver hands-on training in skill areas that are in demand by North Carolina companies. These projects will serve 25 counties across the state and target more than 3,580 employment opportunities identified by industry over a 2 to 3 year period.

Many firms across the state and nation report having difficulty finding workers with the skills required by industry for employment in advanced manufacturing. Recent reports have highlighted the mid-skills gap that exists across the country and the need to take advantage of the recent trend of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

Patrick Clark, plant manager at Cooper Standard’s Goldsboro facility said, “The Golden LEAF grant program in partnership with the NC Community College System will address the skill gaps that companies face in our area. With the intense pressures of global competition, manufacturers must include automation and advanced manufacturing processes in their vision to remain successful in the future. A major concern facing companies seeking to relocate is the skill level of the employment pool in that local area. This grant provides our area the competitive edge by creating knowledgeable and skilled employees and an attractive environment for industry growth. Our most valuable resource is our dedicated and hardworking people, who can create success now given the chance.”

To assist the state with job creation and address the skills gap that companies are struggling to overcome in hiring qualified workers with the technical skills required in advanced manufacturing, the Golden LEAF designed a competitive grants program in partnership with the NC Community College System.

“The Mid-Skills Initiative will help address several issues with manufacturing employment in the state,” said William Clarke, Golden LEAF Board Chair. “The grants awarded will provide citizens from tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural communities with access to skills training for high wage jobs, connect the state’s industries with the skilled workers they need, and upgrade the capacity of our training institutions.”

Dr. Scott Ralls, President of the North Carolina Community College System said, “North Carolina Community Colleges appreciate the strong partnership we share with Golden LEAF in addressing economic development issues across our state. The new Mid-Skills Initiative will allow selected colleges to focus on capacity, third-party certifications, equipment updates and more, all of which mean better job prospects for our students and a stronger talent pool for North Carolina’s industries. Opportunity leading to a better quality of life is what this initiative is all about.”

On December 6th, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded 9 grants to support the following projects:

Blue Ridge Community College – $485,000 to enhance Computer Integrated Machining labs at the main campus in Henderson County and at Brevard High School in Transylvania County.
Gaston College – $500,000 to increase space available for and student enrollment in machining and welding.
Catawba Valley Community College – $470,000 to enhance training capacity in Mechatronics and automated manufacturing in Catawba and Alexander counties.
Mitchell Community College – $418,172 to expand training opportunities in Mechanical Engineering, automation and welding.
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College – $475,000 to support advanced skills training in Computer Integrated Machining.
Rockingham Community College – $496,000 that will be used to expand training capacity in welding to meet student enrollment and industry demand.
Forsyth Technical Community College – $825,000 to expand the Endorsed Skills Certification Program in Computer Integrated Machining at Forsyth and Guilford Tech, Randolph and Rockingham Community Colleges and the Davie Campus of Davidson County Community College.
Nash Community College – $870,000 to allow Nash and Wilson Community Colleges to provide enhanced training programs targeting pharmaceutical and transportation manufacturing companies.
Pitt Community College – $900,000 to partner with Wayne Community College for enhanced training in Mechanical Engineering, Computer Integrated Machining, Solid Works and AutoCAD for area industry employment.
“The Golden LEAF Board of Directors created this special initiative with the awareness that North Carolina leads the Southeast in manufacturing jobs, with more than 18 percent of the rural workforce earning $8.5 billion in manufacturing wages,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President. “These projects will help manufacturers, our largest private sector employers, with qualified workers.”

About the Golden LEAF Foundation
The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The foundation receives one-half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state. The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,152 grants worth over $508 million since its inception. To learn more about applying for a grant, visit or call (888) 684-8404.

About the North Carolina Community College System
With nearly 900,000 students and 58 colleges, the North Carolina Community College System is the third largest community college system in the nation and is the primary agency for workforce development training and adult education in our state.


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