- Associated Press - Friday, August 8, 2014

BAKER, La. (AP) - More than 130 students have completed skilled trade classes in welding, electrical, millwright, pipefitting and water operations since the Baker Workforce Development Center opened in January.

Officials told The Advocate (https://bit.ly/1r5zbGo ) it’s the kind of program that should be replicated around the state.

The center, operated by Baton Rouge Community College, now enrolls about two dozen men and one woman, all of whom are working on skills they hope will net them high-paying jobs in the upcoming industrial boom officials are touting.

The building underwent extensive remodeling thanks to a cooperative effort of businesses and local, state and federal governments, Baker Mayor Harold Rideau said.

Students meet in two classrooms and hone their skills on machinery in the large, un-air-conditioned garage bays.

“It was a lot of work - we’ve been working on this thing for a year and a half,” Rideau said to a small, perspiring audience gathered in front of the building.

“For 35 years, I did machinist-millwright work; I did instrument electrical work; I did pipefitting work,” Rideau said. “I know how important this is, and it is important that we do it, and I thank God for this opportunity.”

The Stupp Corporation provided the initial $10,000 for renovations, and the state, through a bill authored by Rep. Dalton Honoré, of District 63, allocated an additional $50,000, according to an event handout.

Other donations include $10,000 from ExxonMobil, $8,000 from the Louisiana Construction Education Foundation for welding equipment and a three-phase transformer from Entergy.

“We have a major focus on helping the businesses and industry in our service areas to have a skilled workforce, and we’re thankful to be a part of it,” said Andrea Lewis Miller, chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College. “We know it will make a difference in the communities we serve.”

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com


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