Delta Regional Authority proceeds with $100,000 investment in West Alabama workforce

January 22, 2014

DRA investment will provide state-of-the-art equipment for trainees to gain jobs in the expanding Alabama automotive industry

Chairman Marshall: “This funding will provide crucial opportunities for education and employment with Mercedes-Benz and the automotive industry of west Alabama.”

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – The University of West Alabama has received its notice to proceed to purchase state-of-the-art equipment for trainees in the Mercedes-Benz Automotive Technician Program at an event with Delta Regional Authority Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall today. This investment of $100,500 will allow trainees from west Alabama to acquire the necessary skills and technical knowledge to meet the entry level requirements of employment in the automotive field.

Once certified, graduates of this program will be equipped to gain employment at the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International facility, located in nearby Vance, Ala., as well as its direct and indirect industry suppliers. Participants in the program will also have the opportunity to work with local industry partners as part of their certification. This training is especially crucial right now as Mercedes-Benz experiences a major expansion through the addition of two new product lines. 

“Building a well-trained workforce is a crucial part of sustaining this region’s economy,” DRA Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall said. "Equipping the west Alabama workforce with the skills needed to work in the automotive industry will allow them to gain good-paying jobs close to home.” The DRA’s official Notice to Proceed allows funding awardees to move forward in implementation of the funded project.

The certification program is planned to be a permanent addition to the University of West Alabama's workforce offerings through the College of Business Department of Computer Information Systems and Technology. The three-semester certification program began in fall 2013 with 15 trainees, with an additional 15 students being admitted each semester on an ongoing basis. 

In addition to allowing for immediate employment in the automotive industry, the short-term certificate will also provide trainees with the opportunity to transfer some academic credit hours gained toward an Associate’s degree in industrial maintenance or a Bachelor’s degree in technology or industrial technology. Mercedes-Benz has already been in a successful partnership with Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa for a similar program.

“Having a trained workforce is one of the main reasons companies choose to come to Alabama. The training supported by this grant provides a path to a high-quality job that can change the lives of those who seize the opportunity,” Governor Robert Bentley said

"We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Delta Regional Authority on this initiative that we know will empower our workforce and have a lasting and profound impact on economic development throughout our service region and beyond," UWA President Richard D. Holland said. "Because of the support provided by the DRA, we are able to further our mission of improving the quality of life in the Black Belt through education and enrichment. The benefits of this program will be seen for many years to come."

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that is congressionally mandated to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta. Through twelve cycles of federal investment, the Authority is helping to create and retain more than 41,000 jobs and has leveraged $2.7 billion in other public and private investment.

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Contact:  Spencer Lucker
202-434-4842, slucker@dra.gov