Released March 9, 2010
MSCC Receives $3.4 Million DOL Grant for Aviation Tech Program; FedEx Express to Participate in Training Effort
Mid-South Community College has been awarded $3,391,053 by the U.S.
Department of Labor to establish an aviation technology program in West Memphis. The
grant is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Key partners in the program include Arkansas Northeastern College in Blytheville
(which will receive $851,136 of the grant), the Arkansas Delta Training and Education
Consortium (ADTEC), the Workforce Investment Board of Eastern Arkansas, FedEx
Express, and Aviation Repair Technologies.
“We are excited, challenged, and humbled by this latest show of faith in our
ability to make a difference in our state, region, and country,” said Dr. Glen Fenter,
MSCC president. “Mid-South Community College is honored to be given an opportunity
of this magnitude to create a model for training workers for the growing aviation
“Our goal continues to be the creation of a workforce that will be second to none
in the nation, and we believe this grant will give us the resources needed to accomplish
great things in our region. We expect nothing short of a tremendous economic outcome
as a result of this grant.”
Dr. Fenter said U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, Congressmen
Marion Berry and Mike Ross, and other state and regional leaders worked together to
secure the significant grant for eastern Arkansas.
“We are very appreciative of the tireless efforts of Senators Lincoln and Pryor,
Congressmen Barry and Ross, and the numerous state and local officials who worked
together to bring this monumental economic development opportunity to the Delta,” Dr.
Fenter said. “Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-9) also has been very supportive of this
effort as it aligns with his ongoing focus on job growth and development in the Memphis
“We also appreciate the tremendous commitment FedEx Express has made to this
project. The company has agreed to participate in the internship program so our students
can obtain on-the-job training while working toward an FAA Airframe and Powerplant
Greg Hall, vice president of FedEx Express Aircraft Maintenance comments, “We
are proud of our skilled and talented Aviation Maintenance Technicians. Observing their
professionalism and expertise will help prepare MSCC students for future success in the
aviation maintenance industry.”
In addition to participating in the internship program, FedEx Express is donating
an operating aircraft, tooling and test equipment to MSCC for student training.
Sen. Lincoln praised the Department of Labor for recognizing the need for the
additional investments in Arkansas.
“A skilled workforce is crucial to fostering job creation and encouraging longterm
economic growth,” Lincoln said. “These job training funds are exactly the kind of
initiatives that the Recovery Act should support, and they will keep our state competitive
by ensuring Arkansans have the necessary skills for high-demand industries.”
“These funds will enhance the top-notch training at community colleges that
result in good paying jobs and benefits,” Sen. Pryor said. “This is really a golden
opportunity for Arkansans.”
“Investing in our education is the best way to create a strong workforce, and is a
long-term commitment to growth in our economy,” Congressman Berry said. “This is a
big win for Arkansans interested in joining and remaining competitive in specialized
In making the grant announcement in Washington, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda
L. Solis, who visited the MSCC campus in June 2009, said the Recovery Act's
investments are making a positive difference in the lives of America's working families.
“The Recovery Act funded grants…will ensure thousands of workers across the
nation can receive high-quality training and employment services, which will lead to
good jobs in health care and other industries offering career-track employment and good
pay and benefits.”
Projects funded through the DOL grants will be conducted in partnership with the
public workforce system, businesses, and other organizations to guarantee that the
training leads to jobs.
MSCC will use its funding to develop an integrated, FAA-certified training
program for airframe and powerplant technicians. The model program will then be
replicated at training facilities in major metropolitan areas.
Emphasizing internships and on-the-job training, the MSCC program will give
students the skills and experience needed to meet the demands of the aviation
“Employment in the field is expected to grow from 122,000 to 135,000 by 2016,
and many current workers are expected to retire in the next decade,” said Dr. Gibson
“Sunny” Morris, Executive Director of the Arkansas Delta Workforce Innovations in
Regional Economic Development (ADWIRED) initiative at MSCC.
“Concerns about the global need for technicians prompted discussions about an
industry/college partnership to establish a training and education program to provide a
pipeline of workers for the future.”
Promotion of the aviation industry in Arkansas is listed as one of the eight
priorities in Gov. Mike Beebe’s current Workforce Investment Act State Plan. The
creation of High Growth Career Educational Pathways is the first priority in the plan, and
the MSCC program will support both objectives.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to train unemployed, dislocated, and incumbent
workers, and it will create a new training paradigm for the entire nation,” said Dr.
Barbara Baxter, MSCC Executive Vice President. “It will also give us the opportunity to
introduce our younger students to aviation technology and give them an additional career
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law by
President Barack Obama on Feb. 17, 2009, to create jobs, promote economic growth, and
assist those most impacted by the recession. The Recovery Act further provided that
projects that prepare workers for careers in the health care sector and other high growth
and emerging industries would receive priority.
Similarly, the DOL Employment and Training Administration (ETA) supports
grant projects that address current and forecasted workforce shortages and provide
workers with paths to career-enhancing opportunities in high growth or emerging
industries. These investments will prepare participants for employment in industries that
are being transformed by technology and innovation requiring new skill sets or are
projected to add substantial numbers of new jobs to the economy.