Germanna, EDA Move Forward with Plans for Fred CAT
The Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority (EDA) authorized Assistant Director for Economic Development Bill Freehling to work with Germanna Community College (GCC) on a memo of understanding for a five year grant totaling $125,000 to help fund Fredericksburg Center for Advanced Technology (Fred CAT).
GCC President Dr. David Sam, Dean of Workforce and Professional Development Martha O’Keefe, Business and Career Coordinator Ben Sherman, and Vice President Workforce Development and Community Relations Jeanne Wesley made the request during the EDA’s meeting on February 8, 2016.
Germanna would like to lease a 7,500 square-foot space in the City of Fredericksburg where they would provide entry level and advanced skills training, certifications, and apprenticeship programs targeted to high demand fields supporting the region’s advanced manufacturing, construction and industrial trades. These trades require more than a high school diploma, but not necessarily a college degree, Sam said.
“These are trades that pay well, serve our community, help our local employers, and can’t be outsourced,” Sam said. “If we help produce more people in these trades, it will also help bring more employers to the area.”
Germanna currently provides online, virtual and video training for some of these fields at its Spotsylvania campus, and has a small industrial classroom at its Culpeper Center, but it’s not big enough to meet the demand. “Enrollment in Fredericksburg [for these classes] has outpaced our other locations and our available space,” O’Keefe said.
A facility in the City of Fredericksburg would provide hands on, real-life training on the actual equipment.
Training and certifications at Fred CAT would include:
Programmable Logic Controls (PLCs)
Computer Numeric Control (CNC) Machinist
Pneumatics and Hydraulics
Drone Building and Operation
Small Engine Repair
Project Management Professional (PMP and Scrum Certifications
Commercial Equipment Repair
Fiber Optic Cable Technician
High Definition Video Production
Four year apprenticeship programs with 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, and national, industry-recognized credentials at Fred Cat would include:
Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
A makerspace is also planned for Fred CAT. “The community would gain access to a variety of otherwise inaccessible or unaffordable equipment,” Wesley said. A makespace provides entrepreneurs and small scale manufacturers equipment and space to design, prototype and manufacture items.
Fred CAT also plans partnerships with local employers. “We’d like to form an employer advisory committee to find out the kinds of programs and services they’d like Fred CAT to deliver,” O’Keefe said.
In addition, Fred CAT wants to work with local high schools, providing high school students basic employment skills as they complete their high school education. “Summer enrichment programs would also be possible,” O’Keefe said.
Now that Germanna has received initial approval from the EDA, they will pursue the necessary approvals from the state government, and prepare an invitation for bids on space leases.
The EDA will review a performance agreement for the Fred CAT grant at its March 14, 2016, meeting.
City Manager Bev Cameron is intending to recommend $25,000 a year for five years in the city’s budget for Fred CAT, Freehling said. This would be separate from the EDA grant, and requires City Council approval.
The earliest Fred CAT could open is August 2016, Sam said.
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