FEBRUARY 14, 2007 - Posted at 7:13 a.m. CST
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Workers in five Delta counties in Arkansas would be re-trained as big-truck drivers with a $1.3 million federal grant. The announcement came yesterday from federal Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and members of the state's congressional delegation.
Chao said the grant was made under the High Growth Job Training Initiative, intended to prepare workers for jobs in vital industries. Making the announcement in Arkansas were U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, Congressman Marion Berry and Governor Mike Beebe.
They said the money would be used by the state's Department of Workforce Services to help workers in Cross, Crittenden and St. Francis counties in Region 8, as well as Lee and Phillips counties, enter the high-growth transportation industry.
The project calls for training 150 people as commercial truck drivers at Mid-South Community College at West Memphis, with an emphasis on underemployed and unemployed workers. The funding will also allow participants to obtain specific certifications, such as heavy truck diesel maintenance or an associate degree in applied science and general technology.
Several private trucking firms and the Teamsters Union are also participants in the program.