By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer
Great Basin College announced its receiving of just more than $4 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Labor last Thursday. Two other institutions, Truckee Meadows Community College and Western Nevada College, also received awards. The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program, which was authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In total, nearly $8.8 million was awarded to the three colleges.
The grant money will be spent over a period of years and will include expanding the number of technical programs offered, the possibility of adding instructors and more.
“It started off being offered by the federal government for people who were being displaced because of unfair trade operations internationally,” GBC President Mark Curtis said. “As of late, it has been expanded to involve more community colleges and career training pieces in addition to helping out the displaced workers. So what they are always looking for in this grant is practical training and where there are jobs and that the training will take no more than two years to complete. That means things like one-year certificate programs and two year associate degree programs or shorter if it would result in an industry recognized credential that would get somebody a job.”
Included in possible plans is a mobile welding lab, which could travel around the state to different campuses, including GBC’s Ely campus.
“We are probably going to purchase a mobile welding lab,” Curtis said. “It will be like a tractor trailer kind of thing and inside that trailer will be eight welding stations and its own generator and we can bring that around to the rural parts of the state to Ely, Pahrump and Winnemucca. We’ve been told it’s something that it’s in high demand.”
This isn’t the first time GBC received funding from the grant. But this is the first time it has received this high of an amount, Curtis said.
“This is the third go around, though we have never received this amount of money,” Curtis said. “The difference is this time, Great Basin College is the lead institution, so we’ll be managing this grant.”
The decision to be the lead institution was the result of the school’s mission and work throughout the years.
“It’s because of the work we do,” Curtis said. “It’s well respected and there are needs in the rural parts of the state, so the idea was that we would take the lead in this grant.”
Nevada Senator Harry Reid supported the community college’s proposals and helped announce the grant funding last week.
“Education is the key to success,” Sen. Reid said in a statement. “These funds will help Nevadans who attend these three schools, revive the innovative training they need to be more competitive in higher paying job sectors like advanced manufacturing, science, technology, engineering and math. These are all the types of private sector jobs that will help build a stronger, vibrant middle class. This is what we need to be investing more in to continue down the path of full economic recovery. I was glad to support this effort and encouraged the Depart of Labor to select this strong proposal from Nevada community colleges.”
While receiving the grant funds represents a big opportunity for Great Basin College, Curtis said now it’s up to them to make sure he funds are utilized the right ways.
“We have work to do to figure out just how we are going to roll this thing out,” Curtis said. “There are a lot of moving parts, as you might expect with a grant of this size. We’re going to have to start a few new programs and expand some programs we have now. We have a lot of work to do over the next three years or so.”