Welding is among programs slated to be offered at the new trades center.
More than 18 months after being awarded a grant for nearly $1.7 million, Virginia Peninsula Community College is close to having something to show for it: a second trades center.
“The space has been leased, and right now the builder is building out that space to meet our needs and should be ready to turn it over to us officially by the end of this December,” said Todd Estes, the College’s interim vice president of Workforce Development.
The location is just off Route 60, at 236 Industrial Boulevard, in Toano in upper James City County. It is owned by builder David Johnson, who is handling the renovations. The site offers 7,800 square feet of training space, and Estes said four programs will be offered there: welding, CNC machining, carpentry and masonry.
“Our plan is to have that facility open in January 2023, and to be able to deliver our first courses,” Estes said.
That would be two years after the College received the money from the United States Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community College training grants program. The funds had to be used for skilled workforce programs.
The College’s other training site is the Center for Building and Construction Trades at Goodwill in Hampton. It has about 5,000 square feet of training space.
Estes said the College is in discussions with the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools to use the facility to expand its occupational dual enrollment programs.
“Those conversations are going on right now,” he said. “They’re very eager to partner with us on that. So we’re excited about that.”
While the majority of the grant money is going toward the Toano facility, the rest of the College also benefits.
“There’s also work being done here on the main campus through this grant,” Estes said. “CNC machining on the Hampton campus, along with HVAC, were two programs that received direct support out of this grant.”
Meanwhile, as the College prepares to offer trades classes in Toano beginning with the 2023 spring semester, its lease with the Goodwill Center in Hampton is running out. The College is looking for a new location.
“We’re actively working on that right now,” Estes said. “We have been having discussions with the city of Newport News, trying to determine if there’s an opportunity within that city to locate our new training center there.”
Estes added the College is taking the opportunity to look at bigger facilities, including sites that could accommodate offshore wind and infrastructure.
“That’s all part of the conversation around not only the Goodwill relocation, but when we relocate from Goodwill, we could also expand our footprint for some of these other trades, as well,” he said.
The College’s lease at Goodwill runs out at the end of the calendar year. It will hold classes there through mid-December. Estes said the spring schedule hasn’t been determined yet.
“While we look for new space, there could be opportunity for some of the training to be delivered here on Hampton campus if we need to,” he said. “But ideally, we will find a new space in relatively short order.”
Estes said it’s an exciting time for the College’s Workforce Development.
“James City County represents a significant expansion of our skilled trades footprint at the upper end of our service area,” he said. “And then the Goodwill relocation and potential expansion of other skilled trade programs in Newport News or one of our other localities on this end of the Peninsula offers real opportunity for the College.”