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BCTC competing for workforce funding with 111 others

By KERRY STEINHOFER
kerry.steinhofer

Danville’s Bluegrass and Community Technical College is facing a lot of competition for funding from the state’s new $100 million workforce development bond fund.
The Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet received 112 project pre-applications for first-round funding consideration, according to a press release. The pre-applications request a total of $510 million from the state, which has $100 million available.
Among the applicants is Danville’s Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s campus, which is seeking $5 for an advanced manufacturing center.
Individual project funding requests range from $40,000 to $28 million. According to the press release, proposals came from all 10 state workforce areas and “addressed a wide array of key industry sectors, including manufacturing, health, technology, transportation and trades.”
Eligible projects fall into three areas: construction of a new facility for workforce training; renovation of an existing facility; or purchase of new or upgraded equipment and first-year marketing expenses.
If Danville’s BCTC campus successfully obtains its $5 million grant for an advanced manufacturing center, it could double the college’s graduation capacity in three manufacturing areas.
Campus Director Erin Tipton previously told The Advocate-Messenger that constructing a building for an advanced manufacturing center on 20 acres of land that BCTC already owns would effectively double the college’s capacity for graduating students in the fields of advanced manufacturing technology, electrical technology and industrial maintenance technology.
Tipton told Danville commissioners at the City Commission meeting earlier this month that over the next two to five years, area industries will have more than 300 job openings requiring degrees in those three fields. Currently, BCTC can graduate about 42 students per year in those fields; the new center would allow the college to graduate “almost 80 students” per year, Tipton said.
In order to be eligible for the grant, all applicants must provide at least a “10 percent financial match for all projects, and required partners include: private sector employers, high school/secondary technical schools and postsecondary institutions,” according to the press release.
BCTC received commitments for matching funds from Boyle County, Danville, the Boyle County Industrial Foundation, the Mercer County Industrial Association and multiple area industries, Tipton has said.
A nine-member committee will review all pre-applicants in early September and notify the pre-applicants who have qualified to submit a full project application.
The state is planning additional application windows for Work Ready Skills Initiative funding, with the next window opening in spring 2017.

“The response to this program has been truly astounding,” Bevin said in the news release. “It dramatically underscores both the needs of our private sector employers and the willingness of our educational institutions and community partners to address those needs.”