PRCC receives $6.67 million for Hancock County workforce training facility
By Alexx Kennedy
PRCC Public Relations
WAVELAND, Miss. — Governor Tate Reeves recently announced the U.S. Department of the Treasury has approved a RESTORE Act grant award of $6.67 million to Pearl River Community College to support workforce training in Hancock County.
The recently approved funds and other leveraged funds will be used for the construction of the Phil Bryant Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy, which is strategically located adjacent to Stennis International Airport and Hancock High School. The grant is administered by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
“It is a historic day for Pearl River Community College, Hancock County and our surrounding communities,” PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood said. “We extend our sincere gratitude to our local, state and federal officials who have provided overwhelming support for this project. Pearl River Community College is committed to expanding the reach of higher education and workforce development opportunities.”
The new center will provide PRCC the necessary ability in Hancock County to deliver technical skills training to students to support existing industry workforce needs and to meet the requirements of future growth sectors such as the aviation and aerospace industry.
The academy will be an estimated 25,000 square feet and will consist of eight classrooms, five labs, lobby with reception area, faculty and staff offices, break room/kitchenette for staff, indoor sitting/vending area for students and an outdoor courtyard sitting area.
The hangar will be an estimated 18,000 square feet and will consist of two classrooms with labs, open hangar area with hands-on lab stations, outdoor covered area for equipment training, lobby with reception area, faculty and staff offices, break room/kitchenette for staff, small vending area for students. The hangar will offer the following programs: Airframe & Propulsion Technology, Unmanned Aerial Systems and Precision Manufacturing.
Every classroom and lab will be designed to be multifunctional and versatile to constantly fit the changing needs of the businesses and industries in this area. Programs listed are the core offerings to start, but they can be changed and added to at any time.
“We have been preparing and anxiously awaiting the final approval needed to begin construction,” Breerwood said. “Governor Reeves’ announcement puts us one step closer to providing a state of the art facility that will serve as an economic engine for the Gulf South Region.”
The academy will offer diverse educational opportunities with academic, career and technical and workforce programs.
Offerings include: Instrumentation, Industrial Electronics Technology, Practical Nursing, Welding & Cutting Technology, Computer Aided Design & Drafting, Business Management Technology, Academic Courses, Workforce Programs, Adult Education/GED.
The programs that will be new to the Hancock location upon its opening are Instrumentation, Airframe & Propulsion Technology, Industrial Electronics Technology, Precision Manufacturing, Computer Aided Design & Drafting and Business Management Technology.
The Aviation Maintenance Technology program is an instructional program that prepares individuals to inspect, repair, service and overhaul aircraft engine components and systems. This program is designed to prepare the student for the Federal Aviation Administration exams for certification as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician. Industry standards referenced are from the Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 147, Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools (Airframes and Power Plants).
“An important component of an improved economy for the Gulf Coast is workforce training so residents can find better employment and opportunities. The anticipated need for a skilled workforce in the aviation and aerospace industry fits well with the existing facilities in the area and Pearl River Community College’s mission in Hancock County,” said Chris Wells, MDEQ Interim Executive Director.
The funds allocated are part of the RESTORE Act’s Direct Component or “Bucket 1.” In the RESTORE Act, 35 percent of the total funds are reserved for Bucket 1 projects and are divided equally among the five Gulf Coast states for ecological and economic restoration. Eligible activities include: restoration and protection of natural resources; mitigation of damage to natural resources; workforce development and job creation; improvements to state parks; infrastructure projects, including ports; coastal flood protection; and promotion of tourism and Gulf seafood.