Concourse gets $3.5M boost, visit from governor

Published 4:41 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Reeves tours facility, speaks with students

Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Concourse Workforce Training Center in Batesville hosted Mississippi’s Gov. Tate Reeves May 17. 

Reeves and other state officials presented a $3.5 million check to fund the expansion of educational resources at the Concourse for technical job training that will help produce a more employable and educated workforce for Mississippi for years to come.

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Funding was provided through AccelerateMS, the state’s first-ever workforce development office formed in 2021 and tasked with developing and deploying workforce strategies to connect individuals with transformative, high-paying careers.

Reeves and other state officials toured the facility and talked with Northwest instructors about what students are learning in the classroom. Reeves had the chance to meet some of these current students and see the progress that Northwest is making.

“It’s about laying the foundation and building the infrastructure for what we know is going to be continued movement into this community and continued movement into north Mississippi,” Reeves said. “These things don’t happen overnight. We know that this started five years ago, and today we’re sitting here and celebrating where we find ourselves.”

This funding will help advance programs such as robotics, automation and control engineering, mechatronics, and industrial maintenance. The Concourse is striving to help create sustainable job growth, explained Associate Vice President for Workforce Solutions and Career-Technical Education Dwayne Casey.

“Three new programs coming in the fall (to the Concourse), we got commercial truck driving, which we already offered at Olive Branch so it’s just an expansion,” Casey said. “We’ve got Business Marketing Management Technology, which we currently offer in Southaven, [and] we’re bringing it here. Industrial Automation Controls Engineering Technology is a new program coming to the Concourse for the fall, and then we anticipate a doubling of our Diesel Technology enrollment for the fall.”

Northwest’s president, Dr. Michael Heindl, explained the Commercial Truck Driving program, which is currently and will continue to operate in Olive Branch, is expanding to Batesville. Before the Olive Branch location opened many students who wanted to train in a similar program would have to drive as far as Nashville to receive this kind of training. This training is targeted toward Northwest’s service counties, but anyone is welcome to apply.

“Each time I come back, I’m always excited because I see more progress and more growth,” said Executive Director of AccelerateMS Ryan Miller. “I think I said it earlier today, what I’m most excited about is that Northwest understands that we have to continue to figure out ways to help existing industry fill the roles that they have currently available that we know are high-paying, high-yield jobs with great wages and great salaries.”

These programs are dedicated to preparing the future workforce of Mississippi and bringing more profitable jobs to the state.

“When I come through here, and I see this technology, I get excited, because I know right down the hall, you have diesel technology, diesel tech, and diesel tech education,” Miller said. “It’s cutting-edge technology, but it’s also trying to meet that immediate need. And you’ve got technology right next to me here with some of their EV and advanced manufacturing, robotics, advanced electronic technology education, that we know that type of industry sector is on its way. So being prepared for what’s coming, as well as continuing to meet the needs of what’s already here. Northwest has always done a great job of that.”