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Opinion | Touting Covington County’s career tech opportunities

Congress was recently out of session for a district work period, and I used this valuable time to travel throughout Alabama’s Second District to visit with my constituents, outstanding local leaders, businesses, and more.

During the week of district work, I made stops in Troy, Daleville, Dothan, Opp, Montgomery, and Prattville. I greatly appreciated everyone who hosted me and took the time to speak with me. Hearing directly from the people I represent enables me to be a better advocate for our district’s priorities in Washington, so I’d like to share with you more details about one of my visits in particular.

I had the privilege of visiting Opp in Covington County one morning, and while I was in town, I stopped by the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (LBWCC) MacArthur Campus for a tour and an update from leadership, faculty, and staff. I was thoroughly impressed by what I learned and saw. I was particularly glad to hear that LBWCC has experienced recent growth and that the school is greatly benefitting from some key partnerships it has with private sector businesses.

While on campus, I received a tour of the impressive industrial electronics program. This program received a federal grant that has enabled it to purchase updated equipment and hire a new instructor. The industrial electronics program at LBWCC partners with some outstanding businesses in our district, including Wayne Farms, Kimber Gun Manufacturing, and Shaw Industries. These valuable public-private partnerships empower LBWCC to offer students hands-on, real world workforce experience right here in our backyard.

Next, I toured the welding program that has also recently been enhanced and improved. Not too long ago, LBWCC obtained a mobile welding lab that they can relocate from campus to campus as needed. Right now, the welding lab is parked at LBWCC in Luverne, because that campus does not currently have a facility for their welding program.

I then toured the campus’ diesel and heavy equipment program, which has recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that enabled the program to expand and offer complete degrees. Prior to this development, the program could only offer certificates, so this is certainly exciting progress. This NSF grant assistance also allowed LBWCC to purchase supplies for their natural gas engines that are very important to the diesel and heavy equipment program. This program at LBWCC partners with several successful private sector businesses, including Mobile Forest Products, FourStar Freightliner, Wiley Sanders Trucklines, Thompson Caterpillar, Thompson Tractor, and Parker Diesel.

In addition, I was given very informative tours of the automechanics, surgical technology, cosmetology programs, and others. I was truly impressed by the many programs offered at LBWCC-MacArthur, and I am thrilled that the school and campus continue to grow and develop in so many areas.

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When I visited LBWCC in Opp, it just so happened to be the first day of summer classes. It was exciting to see all the students in class ready to take on whatever this semester has in store for them. My time on campus further underscored the critical importance of career tech programs and opportunities like the ones I’ve highlighted here. The visit also once again demonstrated how invaluable public-private partnerships like the ones at LBWCC are to workforce development in our district.

Throughout my time in Congress, I have proudly supported efforts to strengthen and improve career tech education throughout our country and state. I am eager to continue working alongside my colleagues in Congress and the Trump Administration to support these hugely significant programs. Our state’s workforce depends on it.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.


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