Celebrating "a win" for residents and businesses in 13 counties

A $10 million grant project begins

More than 100 educators, employers, and leaders in workforce and economic development from throughout northeastern Pennsylvania gathered at Northampton Community College on November 11 to celebrate the launch of a 4-year project that will provide job training for students from throughout the region and create 36 new, redesigned or technology enhanced degree, diploma or certificate training options in healthcare, advanced manufacturing and logistics/transportation.

Funded by a $10 million grant from the United States Department of Labor, the project is expected to have a long-term impact in strengthening the relationships between the colleges and employers and in graduating students who are prepared to workforce demands well into the future.

It involves three community colleges - Lehigh Carbon, Luzerne and Northampton - and 34 industry partners from 13 counties in a collaborative initiative that Dr. Mark Erickson, president of Northampton Community College, said "addresses many nationally important education, workforce and economic development issues."

Dr. Ann Bieber, president of Lehigh Carbon Community College, noted that the project heralds "a new phase of our joint history, showcasing both this and potentially future opportunities for our 3 colleges to partner together."

President Thomas Leary of Luzerne County Community College called the geographic reach of the work "extraordinary" in that the population of the 13 counties involved totals nearly 2 million people.

Erickson described it as "a win for the residents and businesses of northeastern Pennsylvania."

Nancy Dischinat, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Lynn Lansdowne, vice president of human resources and chief administrative officer of Pocono Health System, and Kevin O'Donnell, president of Greater Hazleton CAN DO, Inc., echoed that opinion in their remarks.

Employers will be involved in a variety of ways including providing input in curriculum development, identifying apprenticeships and internship opportunities, providing mentors, donating or loaning equipment, involving employees who could benefit from additional training, and giving hiring priority to students who complete the programs.

The industry partners are Airgas, B. Braun Medical, Inc., Blue Mountain Health Systems, Fisher Clinical Services, Fresh Pet Kitchens, Just Born, Inc., K-Fab, Inc., Lehigh Valley Health Network, Linde Corporation, Machining Technologies, Mack Trucks, Martz Group, Medico Industries, Ocean Spray, Pocono Medical Center, St. Luke's Hospital Miners Campus, St. Luke's Physician Group, Victaulic, Walmart, and Waste Management.

Other organizations involved in the collaborative project are CanDo of Greater Hazleton, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Manufacturing Council, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board Healthcare Industry Partnership, the Manufacturers Resource Center, the Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center, and Skills in Scranton.

You can read more about the "TAACCCT 4" initiative on lehighvalleylive, watch interviews on Channel 69 and see pictures here.

TAACCCT is the acronym for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program.  It is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education.