Region 8 Community College Preparing Students for Workforce

January 30, 2007 - Posted at 6:12 p.m. CST

WEST MEMPHIS, AR - A Birmingham, Alabama-based publication predicts that Toyota will choose Marion as the site for a new automotive assembly plant. According to southern business & development, Toyota has already chosen Marion over sites in Tennessee and North Carolina, but has not yet made the announcement. It would be another major company making the decision to call Crittenden County home.

The education system at Mid South Community College is helping to grow Crittenden County's manufacturing industry.

"A lot of us weren't getting anything out of a text book if we can touch it and take it apart we really walk away with a lot more knowledge than we came in," said student Paul Tiebel.

Tiebel is learning skills in the automotive and manufacturing sector that he hopes will directly help him to landing a quality job.

"I feel being right here at home with it, I can go and I have already trained with it I can go right into the factory," said Tiebel.

Like Tiebel, classmate Eric Clampit is in high school and attends MSCC.

"When I leave high school I'll have two years in college when other people leave they will have high school," said Eric Clampit, a senior at Marion High School.

While part of the program is for getting high school students an early start, MSCC programs are available for anyone to gain that valuable secondary education. President Dr. Glen Fenter says its knowledge employers are looking for.

"We asked the manufacturing industry what they needed their employees to know and that drove the development of our curriculum," said Dr. Fenter.

The workforce technology center here at Midsouth Community College costs around $8 million but $2 million to equip all the machinery. They feel it is a small price to pay for the investment it could mean for the economy in Crittenden County.

"There is one major predictor as to the economic strength of a region and that primary predictor is the percentage of adults with post secondary education," said Dr. Fenter.

When Hino made the decision to build in Marion they saw the potential MSCC had to offer and recently, others have taken notice as well.

"In the past few months there have been numerous representatives from a number of industries who have toured this facility and left very excited about the potential," said Dr. Fenter.

Mid South Community College is working with community colleges in Blytheville, Forrest City, Newport and Helena to develop a similar curriculum for students all across the Delta.