(Franklin, VA) –Under a large American flag undulating over the building, the Grand Opening of the Paul D. Camp Community College Regional Warehouse and Distribution Training Facility got underway with perfect weather and heartfelt words.
Instruction at the facility began in 2018 with Forklift, Reach Truck and Clamp Truck Operator and Warehouse and Distribution Foundation programs taught there. The project has been a collaborative effort of many donors and business partners.
Franklin City Mayor Frank Rabil greeted 130 guests, followed by remarks from PDCCC President Dr. Daniel Lufkin. He talked about the collaborative project and what it means to our area.
“In this renovated space—designed and outfitted to replicate a real-world warehouse environment—we not only will be able to customize training to meet local employers’ needs, but more importantly, we will be able to help put people to work in meaningful jobs that allow for career advancement and pay a family-sustaining wage,” he said.
“With the equipment and set up you see here today, we will be able to showcase this facility to potential companies looking to move into our area, and have it serve as a place for site location consultants to visit.”
CEO and Executive Director of the Virginia Port Authority John F. Reinhart talked of the importance of providing job opportunities nearby in order to retain residents. “[With this facility] People can work for local companies,” he said. “They can live here and be the fabric of our community.
“This area will continue to grow, and we want to grow smartly with it. On behalf of the Virginia Port Authority, I am happy to have played a small part in this.”
Chief Workforce Advisor to the Governor Megan Healey, PhD, related how job openings outnumber qualified candidates in Virginia and that we have to think about how to fill not only these jobs, but future jobs as well. “Many businesses will benefit from this,” she said. “I commend this partnership.”
Andrew Murrell of Franklin, a graduate of several programs taught at the facility, including Forklift, Clamp and Reach Truck, and Employability/Soft Skills, said he’d recommend the program to others. “It gives you the ability to go to a company with all the knowledge and skill you’ll need for the job, and it is right here at home,” he said. Murrell, who has secured a job at Cost Plus World Market in Windsor, briefly addressed the guests in attendance as well. “I thank Paul D. Camp Community College for giving me a platform,” he told the audience.
Other highlights of the program included a check presentation from President and CEO of Hampton Roads Workforce Council Shawn Avery for the generous amount of $20,000 for student scholarships. PDCCC Director of Workforce Development Angela Lawhorne said that the project had been a “labor of love.” She presented an award to Mike Renfrow of Virginia International Terminals who served as a dedicated leader and, along with his contractors, associates and construction staff, contributed many hours of assistance.
A tour of the facility followed, which included forklift simulators and a forklift demonstration by Murrell.
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Those participating in the ribbon cutting of the building from left, are: Local College Board members Chuck Sanders and Chair Elect Jim Strozier, Franklin City Manager Amanda Jarratt, Senior Associate of Moseley Architects Jan Burgess, Publisher of The Tidewater News Tony Clark, PDCCC Director of Workforce Development Angela Lawhorne, PDCCC President Dr. Daniel Lufkin, Chief Workforce Advisor to the Governor Megan Healey, CEO and Executive Director of Virginia Port Authority John F. Reinhart, Franklin City Mayor Frank Rabil, Local College Board members June Fleming, Benjamin Vaughan and Youlander Hilton, President and CEO of Hampton Roads Workforce Council Shawn Avery, and PDCCC Foundation Board Member Herbert DeGroft.