Northern Pennsylvania Regional College training center unveiled
Warren-based Northern Pennsylvania Regional College held a groundbreaking ceremony and open house for its new tech training center in Fairview Township on Thursday.
The center, located at the North Coast Plaza on 5739 West Ridge Road – the former home of the Fortis Institute – is the premier educational and practical training facility in the college’s nine counties, and aims to connect students with equipment and training materials to improve their skills.
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“We are very focused on the skills of the workforce that are needed,” said NPRC President Susan Snelick. “Whether it’s our workforce training programs or our academics, we are very focused on the needs within our communities, so that people are trained and educated for these opportunities. “
The new center has a laboratory for precision machining and industrial maintenance technology, with fully equipped milling machines, lathes, grinders and workstations, as well as training panels for hydraulics and pneumatic.
The center also has a science lab, nurse’s aide and medical lab, a learning space for early childhood education, and 14 general classrooms.
Students started using the center this fall. Snelick said some machines may not be ready until January.
Funding for the center and equipment was made possible through a grant provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The cost of the equipment was around $ 989,000, according to the NPRC.
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Thursday’s ribbon cut was preceded by remarks from a host of local officials, including State Senator Dan Laughlin, of Millcreek, R-49th Dist .; State Representative Curt Sonney, of Harborcreek, R-4th Dist .; and Jake Rouch, vice president of economic development for the Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership.
Everyone praised the center both as an integral bridge for students to access high-demand jobs in the community and as a way to attract new businesses to Erie County.
“I don’t think there is a better driver of our economic improvement than providing this skilled workforce for the employers that exist,” Sonney said. “If you want to attract employers, you have to have a workforce.
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Rouch added that the center aims to help existing employers become more competitive.
“They have open positions that they cannot fill,” he said. “They have employees facing retirement. They need to be replaced by well-trained employees – and this facility will play a role in meeting that need.”
The state-funded NPRC began exploring a workforce development site in 2019, after talks broke down on a partnership with Erie County, which has since gained approval from state and launched its own community college. The NPRC has established an Erie County Advisory Committee to advise on community workforce needs.
The two-year regional college delivery model is primarily based on live virtual education, connecting teachers from one location with students from one or more locations in real time. However, because its workforce training programs require hands-on instruction, the NPRC sought new physical space.
Snelick said that unlike many regional or community colleges across the country, NPRC enrollments have increased quarterly since the college’s inception in 2014. It is not clear, at this point, whether the new community college County of Erie, which also offers two-year study, will affect long-term enrollment in the NPRC.
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The NPRC began operating independently in January 2020 after initially partnering with Gannon University to provide degrees.
The college now operates in Cameron, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, McKean, Potter, Venango and Warren counties.
For more information about the center and to apply to the NPRC, visit the college’s website at regionalcollegepa.org.