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Educational, vocational institutions look to partner with Caterpillar

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Aug. 12, 2010 at 3:12 a.m.


Educational institutions are excited about the potential to train a new workforce for Caterpillar.

The company announced Thursday it plans to build a 600,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at the Lone Tree Business Park.

Caterpillar representatives made three visits to Victoria College and met with representatives from the Workforce Solutions Golden Crescent before making the announcement Thursday.

"That's a big part of what helped bring them here," said Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp.

Fowler said development funds for Workforce Commission that would flow through VC could provide training needed for the manufacturing jobs the plant will demand.

"The college is here to do whatever we can to make sure they have the trained workforce to be successful," said Jennifer Yancey, vice president of college advancement and external affairs.

Yancey said the college already offers some of the training future employees might need through its welding, electrical, heating and ventilation, instrumentation and millwright classes. But the school will probably develop more programs.

"We'll work closely with them to identify what types of training programs they'll be needing and then we'll work closely with them to develop those here at the college," she said.

In addition to the production jobs needed, engineers, accountants and management-level positions will also need to be filled, said Jim Dugan, Caterpillar spokesman.

Henry Guajardo, executive director of Workforce Solutions Golden Crescent, said his group is ready to assist the company with space, job fairs and applicant screenings, although he could not say how soon.

"I'm just happy it's Caterpillar," he said. "We've already met some of their representatives, and I think we can build on that relationship and move forward with it."

The University of Houston - Victoria also welcomed the company. Suzanne LaBrecque, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the university would be "pleased to work with members of the Caterpillar leadership team to help them with any academic needs they may have."

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