ICC center set up to meet manufacturing needs

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Itawamba Community College on Thursday showed off its renovated Manufacturing Solutions Center, an 82,365-square-foot multi-purpose facility that is helping train the next generation of workers.
“We built this to support manufacturing in the region,” James Williams, an ICC vice president, said of the $7.2 million facility at ICC-Belden Center. “There’s a conference center and flex space that can be used for training for manufacturers of all types.”
Five career and technical programs also have been relocated to the Belden Center, including welding, EMT, industrial maintenance, electrical technology and heating and air conditioning.
By moving those career and technical programs over to join the workforce programs already in place, the Manufacturing Solutions Center will help provide customized training to meet industry and manufacturing needs across Northeast Mississippi, Williams said.
An assessment center at the MSC has been utilized by Toyota Mississippi suppliers, but the facility also has been used by furniture companies and other manufacturers.
“This is the place to go where we can match employers and employees together, all under one roof,” Williams said. “It’s a one-stop shop. We’ve looked at the core skills all manufacturers have and are looking for and help train workers. There aren’t too many people doing this that I know of.”
The goal of the Manufacturing Solutions Center, the school said, is “to develop a seamless workforce development system that ensures the presence of a highly skilled workforce, thereby enhancing the economic prosperity of the region by supporting existing industries as well as creating new job opportunities and capital investments.”
Said Williams, “What we’re doing here is looking down the road a few years, to prepare the workforce for the skills they’ll need.”
In addition to the more than $7.2 million in construction costs, another $205,000 was spent on audio visual equipment and $381,000 for furnishings.
Funding for the project included $4 million in Toyota incentive education training money and $3.7 million from an Economic Development Administration grant provided through the stimulus bill of 2009.
Williams said another 90,000 square feet is available for expansion for the MSC.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com