Last Updated on April 28, 2022 12:04 pm
Against the backdrop of blue skies and sunshine on Wednesday, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute celebrated a new building that will enable students to continue their training when the weather isn’t so cooperative.
In front of a crowd of elected officials, business leaders, educators and corporate partners, CCC&TI hosted the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Electrical Lineworker Training Center. The 7,500-square-foot building, located on Roy E. Coffey Drive in Hudson adjacent to CCC&TI’s outdoor Electrical Lineworker pole yard, opened in 2021 but the ribbon cutting was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The facility features a large main room with four 33-foot poles, modern classrooms and faculty office space, with a goal of providing an indoor space for training in evenings and during inclement weather, as well as additional capacity to produce more graduates.
“This facility is like none other in the Southeast United States,” CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch said. “This facility will take weather out of the equation and move students through the program quickly and into the workforce. It allows us to have students in the building at the outdoor pole yard simultaneously so we can produce graduates in a shorter amount of time.”
For energy providers, the program and the new building will help with filling essential technical positions.
“(The program) is recognized as one of the top programs throughout the state,” said Robin Nicholson, Duke Energy Government and Community Relations District Manager. “We’re very proud to be a part of that and to be standing here before you today to dedicate and have a ribbon cutting for such a great facility.”
Doug Johnson, CEO of Lenoir-based Blue Ridge Energies, sees the new facility as the first step toward additional growth for the program.
“Conversations have already begun about what’s next beyond lineworker (training),” Johnson said, adding that plans for substation and operational technology training programs are being discussed. “How do we train those other types of employees that we’re going to need in the future? … The future is bright.”
Caldwell Economic Development Commission Executive Director Deborah Murray described the project as part of Caldwell County’s overall strategy for new growth.
“This expansion and dedication is more important for all of us in the future,” Murray said. “Now, more than ever, we will need and appreciate the folks who will train here and accommodate the next wave of success in Caldwell County.”
The cost of the facility was $2 million, with funding from the Connect NC Bond from 2016 and additional financial support from Duke Energy, Blue Ridge Energies and the Cannon Foundation.
The investment continues to pay dividends for one of CCC&TI’s most popular workforce training programs. According to a recent economic impact study, for every dollar a student spends attending the Electrical Lineworker program, they get a $9.20 return on their investment. The program has a nearly 100-percent job placement rate with starting salaries well above the area’s average income.
Students from 16 states have traveled to Hudson to enroll in the program, from as far away as California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, Wyoming and Pennsylvania. The current class includes students from Colorado, Nebraska, New Jersey and the Virgin Islands. Poarch said two students from Alaska are registered to attend this fall.
As the program attracts students from across the country, Town of Hudson Mayor Janet Winkler showed her appreciation for what CCC&TI and its students bring to the community.
“We are thrilled to have you right in the middle of Hudson and certainly in Caldwell County,” she said of the new building and the current lineworker students on hand for the event. “Thank you, guys, for studying this program and I hope you go back to your respective areas and become very, very successful.”
The 14-week Electrical Lineworker program prepares students for entry-level jobs as electrical line technicians. The cost for the program is approximately $1,140 with classes offered throughout the year.
The next Electrical Lineworker class at CCC&TI begins on June 4 and seats are still available. To reserve a seat in a future class, prospective students can call 828-726-2242 for information.
CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch, right, and Energy Programs Coordinator Marty Walker, surrounded by students, project partners and event guests, cut the ribbon on the new Electrical Lineworker Training Center at Wednesday’s ceremony in Hudson. The facility features an indoor pole yard, as well as classroom and office space for the growing Electrical Lineworker program.
Guests watch as students demonstrate their pole-climbing skills at Wednesday’s Electrical Lineworker Training Center ribbon-cutting event.