Following a July discussion about the benefits of Central Texas College, the Coryell County Economic Development Board heard what services the school contributes to the area Monday.

John Hunt, deputy chancellor of the school’s Texas campuses and distance learning operations, and Teresa Chavez, director for CTC’s continuing education program, spoke to board members about programs and classes the college offers that have a value to the county’s economic health and growth.

“Our primary goal is to prepare students for jobs,” said Hunt, describing the school’s various vocational programs, including automotive, masonry and welding classes. “We’re here to put people to work as soon as possible.”

When businesses consider expanding or relocating, the availability of a skilled workforce is a deciding factor.

Hunt said the demand for certain trades, such as welding, is so high some students find jobs before completing their certification courses.

Chavez spoke about short classes CTC can provide for technical skills on campus, in the workplace or online.

“You heard about a ‘skilled worker gap’ in jobs that need technical skills,” she said. “We decided to fill that gap.”

In nine months or less, workers can learn a necessary skill for a job at a lower price than companies would be charged to send them to another city or bring outside training to Coryell County.

Chavez also spoke about different initiatives the college offers, including the Veteran’s Initiative, which provides tuition to train new employees in specific nonacademic skills.

Board member Fred Chavez, who is also an employee at the college, said in July the “new normal” in the country for business site selectors is to consider an area’s workforce.

“It used to be green fields and buildings,” he said. “Then people thought it was (tax) incentives. None of those things are the case now.”

Fred Chavez also presented an idea of focusing on defense contractors who live in the area and introducing them to communities surrounding Fort Hood, but fellow board member Eric Kietzer expressed concern about establishing a business plan for the board first.

“I’d love to see strategy become our main focus point,” said Kietzer, which Fred Chavez agreed was important.

Contact Audrey Spencer at aspencer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7476

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