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Putting the Green in Greensboro: NC A&T receives millions for green energy program

NC A&T was selected out of 509 applicants.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The United States Department of Commerce is investing 23.7 million dollars to expand it's clean energy workforce training.

The money is being used from the American Rescue Plan Good Jobs Challenge grant and it is going to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. 

The program is helping students get the training for the region's growing clean energy sector, but partnering them up with employers throughout the state to learn more about solar energy, self driving cars, alternative fuels and more. 

It's a program the college has been piloting. The pilot program started in 2020 with nine students. It increased to 31 students in 2021. This summer it nearly doubled.

Mechanical engineering senior, Sydney Parker, has been apart of the program. 

We're building something that's bigger than me, bigger than us, and that can be really essential for the world," Parker said. "Being able to be apart of this is such a huge impact on my life because, I like I said, I never knew anything, I only took a couple classes, but actually being able to apply it in an actual job position it was just mind blowing."

She said she partnered with an organization to learn more about building self driving cars. 

The industry is growing in the Triad. 

North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper, said this funding will continue to grow the area as a hub for green energy. 

"The triad is becoming the epicenter with Toyota Battery, making their batteries here, with that workforce, with Boom Supersonic, making cleaner airplanes, with North Carolina A&T State, being a hub of education but all other educational institutions, our high schools, our community colleges, working together, the Triad is taking off."

In a partnership with the college, more than 40 employers are committed to hiring 3000 people over four years. 

After that four years, the companies plan to place 1500 people each year. 

"We know that these jobs are here and they are great paying jobs that are being created by this clean energy economy and this effort can make sure that people in underserved communities, with diverse talent, can get the training they need to get these jobs," said Governor Cooper. "We know the jobs are here, this is going to supply the clean energy workforce that we need, I think that will attract even more companies to North Carolina who understand we have the talented and diverse workforce to fill the jobs that they create."

 United States Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, made the announcement Wednesday. She said the program will expand to focus on the under served communities, by using a mobile unit to go into 17 counties. 

Secretary Raimondo said that includes 10 communities that encompass black belt rural communities. 

"I said to the team you're not allowed to spend a penny unless employers are at the table committed to hiring," said Raimondo. "We know women, particularly women of color, are stuck in low wage jobs, not because they're not talented and hardworking, but because they don't have the skills and training necessary to get the jobs or today and tomorrow.

Raimondo said she is on a mission to make sure every American can get a job. 

"Regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, how old they are, whether they are in recovery, formerly incarcerated, has the chance to get a real job," Raimondo said. "That's the mission we are on together, giving them a shot."

Greensboro Mayor, Nancy Vaughan, said it's putting the green in Greensboro. 

"With the Toyota and Boom announcement, we know that we are the hub of green energy. I am so excited about this grant the earn to learn and the talent pipeline that it will bring," said Vaughan. 

The grant funding will likely be given out in the next few days and those employers will begin hiring in about nine months. 


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