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Virginia Tech Spearheads Jobs-Creation Effort
January 27, 2010

A Virginia Tech -led team of almost 20 partners has won $3.8 million in federal stimulus money to train workers for new, green jobs in the construction industry. The grant is expected to train some 400 workers over two years.

Community Housing Partners in Christiansburg, a nonprofit with three decades’ experience in administering federal monies, is managing the U.S. Department of Labor grant, which will include a $474,000 outlay to Virginia Tech as well as almost $2 million to the community colleges.

Types of workers targeted for training include electricians, mechanical engineers, building inspectors, and weatherization technicians. Students will receive free tuition for the training, which will take place at New River Community College, Wytheville Community College, and Virginia Western Community College. Some training will also take place at Community Housing Partners’ Christiansburg training center, called the New River Center for Energy Research and Training.

Three Virginia Tech faculty members most intimately involved in curriculum development are Georg Reichard, assistant professor of building construction in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction; John Randolph, professor of urban affairs and planning in the School of Public and International Affairs; and Sean McGinnis, senior research scientist and chair of the Green Engineering Program.

Major shares of the grant money also go to NewVA Corridor Technology Council (more than $100,000), which is a nonprofit association of businesses and organizations covering eight counties, and Virginia’s workforce boards (more than $500,000) for recruitment and placement of students.

The project is called CREATES — Construction, Retrofitting, and Energy-Efficiency Assessment Training and Employment Systems. CREATES will serve almost two dozen counties in Western Virginia.

The grant comes through the U.S. Department of Labor through the Energy Training Partnership program.

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