Submitted by: Centralia College Foundation

The Centralia Coal Transition Grants Economic & Community Development Board is pleased to announce it has approved a $1,300,000 grant to the Centralia College Foundation to construct a 12,000 square foot facility on the Centralia College campus to house training programs to meet current and prospective employer workforce training needs.

Dr. Bob Mohrbacher, President. Photo courtesy: Centralia College Foundation.

The proposed site for this pre-engineered building is adjacent to the technology building and is already zoned for educational use.

“This grant will provide the funding to build the facility and allow members of the Foundation and the College to focus on securing additional funding for equipment which includes an overhead crane, six heavy equipment simulators, a commercial truck simulator, computer lab, robotics/automation equipment, compressed air system, forklift and miscellaneous program driven equipment and tools,” said Jeff Yanish, funding board member. “The opportunity to support a project which expands and enhances career and technical education programs to serve the economic development needs in the local area falls within the mission of the board.

We are excited to see how this project develops.

The Economic & Community Development Board was formed as a result of the 2011 Agreement between TransAlta and the state of Washington. This agreement allowed for the Centralia plant to move away from coal-fired operations with one unit shutting down in December 2020 and the second unit in December 2025. TransAlta is investing $55 million into Lewis and South Thurston Counties and the state of Washington through the Coal Transition Boards.

Christine Fossett, Executive Director. Photo courtesy: Centralia College Foundation.

Centralia College has consistently been a strong supporter of education programs supporting local industry and the trades. This grant for a flexible trades building will expand the college’s ability to train-on-demand in response and anticipation of industry needs. The building will also enhance the college’s partnership with local and regional manufacturers. Dr. Bob Mohrbacher, President of Centralia College, indicates, “This new facility gives Centralia College the ability to extend our existing partnerships with local industry, with potential new employers coming to the area, and with area high schools. We can build up the local workforce and respond quickly to new training needs.”

Plans are in the works for Centralia College to create a mobile classroom for career and technical training that will take simulators and equipment to local high schools. This will expose students to Centralia College’s trades programs, local industry needs and various career opportunities.

Equipment and training aids will be interchangeable between the mobile classroom and the new building. Centralia College Dean of Instruction for Healthcare and Industrial Trades, Jake Fay, has been working with local high schools to create articulation agreements that will allow students to complete training in high school that will count towards degrees at the college. “I’m really excited for this opportunity,” said Fay. “I see this as a great opportunity to collaborate with local industry partners and the K-12 system. We will be preparing the residents of Lewis County for employment in the high demand and high skill jobs that provide living wages right here in our community.”

Jake Fay, Dean of Instruction for Healthcare and Industrial Trades. Photo courtesy: Centralia College Foundation.

The Centralia College Foundation will be working in close coordination with the college in completing this foundation owned building. “I am happy to represent the foundation and board on this project for the benefit of the college, businesses, and local trades. Our thanks to the Centralia Coal Transition Funding Board for their support and their confidence in the foundation,” said Christine Fossett, Executive Director.

The Centralia College Foundation was founded in 1982 and is a premier fund-raising organization that actively stimulates the community to invest through it, the funds and other assets and energies needed for Centralia College and its students. The Foundation partners with Centralia College in a variety of ways, the prominent avenues being scholarships for students, program support and capital campaigns.

Overview of the Centralia Coal Transition Funding Boards:

Annual payments for the funding boards have been made for the past five years with the last payment due December 31, 2023. The opportunity to start flowing dollars into projects became effective December 31, 2015.

Weatherization Board ($10M): established to fund energy efficiency and weatherization for the residents, employees, business, non-profit organizations and local governments within Lewis County and South Thurston County; up to $1 million shall be allocated to fund residential energy efficiency and weatherization measures for low-income and moderate-income residents of Lewis County and South Thurston County;

Economic & Community Development Board ($20M): established to fund education, retraining, economic development, and community enhancement; at least $5M shall be allocated to fund education, retraining and economic development specifically targeting the needs of workers displaced from the Centralia facility;

Energy Technology Board ($25M): established to fund energy technologies with the potential to create environmental benefits to the state of Washington.

For more information on the Centralia Coal Transition Funding Boards visit: http://cctgrants.com.

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