Albany schools, businesses, and government collaborate on job training iniatives

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The City of Albany has agreed to fund $2.9 million for technical training equipment at Linn-Benton Community College (LBCC) to answer local business needs for skilled labor.

Jim Merryman, Chief Operating Officer and President of Oregon Freeze Dry, led a coalition of Albany-area businesses and industries in asking for money that the City had set aside for economic development projects. The funds will be used to purchase equipment, which will allow for the creation and enhancement of one-year certificates and 2-year degree programs at LBCC in non-destructive testing, titanium welding, machine tooling and mechatronics.

Merryman and other business leaders told the City Council that they are currently unable to fill many high-paying local jobs because workers don’t have the skills to do them.

“This partnership addresses the specific needs of Albany businesses, diversifies and strengthens Albany’s economy and will allow local businesses to fill more than 1,000 positions over the next five years,” Merryman said.
Greg Hamann, president of LBCC, agreed. “What an amazing moment – business, education and the City have come together in a truly shared effort to shape Albany’s economic future for the better,” Hamann said. “Over the next couple of years, we will, together, turn these shared investments into the jobs on which that better future will be built.”

This unique, community-wide partnership supplements workforce development work that is concurrently underway through the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and local businesses. Complementary training efforts are also underway at South Albany High School.

“The challenge of a skilled workforce isn’t just an Albany problem; it’s an Oregon and nationwide problem,” said Janet Steele, president of the Albany Chamber. “Our work in Albany has focused around finding ways to ensure our local manufacturers have a strong supply of workers to fill the positions they have open now and those needed in the future.”