Joplin's City Council meets tonight to vote on awarding money for a new job training center. The City Council will discuss giving the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation about $2.5 million. That money would be used to completely furnish the old Franklin Technology building on West Fourth Street.
Funds would come from federal grant money given to Joplin, earmarked for economic development.
We talked to a Chamber Foundation worker to see how that money would be used to spark job growth.
Larry Warren grew his business from the ground up. If you want to get specific, he grew it from the underground up.
"We started out 10 years ago," says Warren. "Just myself, in the basement. We converted one of the rooms in our basement to an office space."
Nine years ago, he moved into a building managed by Joplin's Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
"There's about six or eight other companies within the building," says Warren.
The concept of supporting entrepreneurs in Joplin is growing.
"It's very much a unique situation," says Tonya Sprenkle, Vice President of the Joplin Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Sprenkle showed us the inside of this new 51-thousand square foot job training building, about half of which will be classrooms. There will be a five-thousand square foot "maker space," as it's called, for getting through the hurdles of trying to invent something.
"You just can't get past that stumbling point of why it's not working. Bring it into the maker space, and collaborate with others from the community that maybe have either had the same kind of program, or go, I might have your answer," says Sprenkle.
Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, though. So this new training center will also have CAD, or computer-aided drafting, classes.
"We're really focusing on folks who are either underemployed or unemployed," says Sprenkle.
There will be 34 hands-on welding training stations.
"Welders are always in demand. Big cities, little cities. They're always looking for welders," says Sprenkle.
An advanced manufacturing classroom will rotate with demand. Say, for example, a new food maker comes into the area, but has unique machines. Potential new workers could get trained here for those machines.
"To be able to say, we can produce this many skilled laborers in this type of job setting that you need," says Warren.
Warren is looking forward to this new training center opening because he knows how having the determination and right skills can pay off later. He now has clients across the country, even Canada, all connecting to his office in Joplin.
"If someone is creating a job, it doesn't matter if it's one being done at a time, or a big company coming in. Either way, it still gets us to the idea that we really need to have more jobs, better jobs, so that people can have a good working wage that they're working for," says Sprenkle.
The first phase of this project included the Chamber of Commerce Foundation buying this property, and renovations. The City of Joplin agreed to use about $3.9 million worth of federal HUD grant money.
The new training school is set to be up and running by Fall of next year. Scholarships won't be available, but Chamber Foundation workers say grant money will be available to help people become students at the training center.
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