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Brenham EDF, Blinn College awarded $1.35 million grant to expand job training opportunities

Funds will go toward expansion of the A.W. Hodde, Jr. Technical Education Center and new job training programs for the region

August 31, 2015

Jay  WilliamsThe Brenham Economic Development Foundation (EDF) has been awarded a $1.35 million grant to double the size of the Blinn College A.W. Hodde, Jr. Technical Education Center and allow Blinn to introduce new training programs for local job seekers.

In addition to the funds provided through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s 2015 Economic Development Assistance Programs, Blinn pledged $50,000 in funding and $50,000 in equipment and committed to operate the center. Brenham Community Development Corp. pledged $250,000 and land valued at $100,000, and Washington County commissioners committed $50,000.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jay Williams made the announcement at the Hodde Center Monday morning before an audience that included U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, State Sen. Lois W. Kolkhorst, State Rep. Leighton Schubert and city of Brenham Mayor Milton Tate. Page Michel, president of the Brenham Economic Development Foundation; David Sommer, president of the Blinn Board of Trustees; Charles Moser of the Brenham Community Development Corporation and Blinn board; and Dr. Mary Hensley, Blinn district president/CEO, also participated in the announcement.

“The Brenham Economic Development Foundation has provided terrific leadership during this time of economic crisis in Washington County and Brenham,” said David Sommer, Blinn board president. “We’re proud to partner with everyone who has helped bring this new job training facility to Washington County and look forward to working together to make Brenham strong again.”

Grant funds will go toward the design, engineering and construction of a new training center. Blinn has agreed to handle daily operations of the new facility as an extension of the Hodde Center, saving administrative costs and doubling the training capacity of the current 12,000-square foot Center, located in the Brenham Business Park at 2910 South Blue Bell Road. The new space will include multi-purpose classrooms and workforce labs and is expected to be completed by summer 2016, with training beginning on-site that fall.

“We are extremely proud that the EDA has selected our grant for funding,” said William H. Holle, chairman of the EDF Board. “On behalf of the board and staff, I want to express my confidence in the successful completion of this project.”

Blinn will lease and operate the completed facility for up to 20 years and will develop new programs to support the high skill/high growth occupations in the region, including industrial machinery mechanics, commercial truck driving and heavy equipment operation. To support truck drivers and heavy equipment operators, a program in diesel engine mechanics will also be developed. According to the U.S. Census, approximately 45 percent of the Washington County workforce lacks any certifications or training beyond high school.

“Nothing is more important to Washington County’s economy than the availability of diverse job-training opportunities created in partnership with local industries,” said Dr. Mary Hensley, Blinn district president/CEO. “Through this grant, we can introduce new programs that will help job seekers find work, bring new businesses to our community and will make a positive impact on the lives of Washington County families.”

Managed by Blinn’s Division of Workforce Education, the Hodde Center offers a variety of career development and leadership courses as well as programs and courses in computers, health professions, manufacturing, welding and safety. For a complete list of courses offered at the Hodde Center this summer, visit: http://www.blinn.edu/workforce/Hodde-Fall-2015.pdf.

Blinn’s Division of Workforce Education improves the local economy by helping job-seekers obtain the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the workplace, and by partnering with local businesses to offer training opportunities for incumbent and new employees. For more information on Blinn’s Workforce Education opportunities, including class schedules and registration information, visit www.blinn.edu/workforce.

About the Brenham Economic Development Foundation
Founded in 1953, the Brenham EDF is an independent 501(c)(6) non-profit organization with more than 250 members. With its policy of managed growth, the Brenham EDF works hand in hand with the business-friendly leadership of the Brenham Community Development Corporation, the City of Brenham, Washington County and Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative to stimulate continued progress in this market. For more information, visit: www.brenhamedf.com.

About Blinn College
A comprehensive community college committed to educational excellence and to individual and community enhancement, Blinn College has served its 13-county Central Texas region since 1883. With an enrollment of 19,317 students, Blinn ranks among the nation’s leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for affordable educational excellence.

Blinn offers job seekers the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the region’s fast-growing industries, and partners with local businesses to provide skills development training for incumbent employees. Each year, Blinn programs and students make a $345.3 million impact on the local economy.

For more information about Blinn College and exciting student success initiatives such as Destination Success: First-Year Focus and the Blinn TEAM Program, visit www.blinn.edu or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.