Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will receive a $23.7 million federal grant to create a clean energy workforce program.
“We are on the cutting edge of the clean energy economy,” Cooper said at A&T’s campus. “…Developing this talented, diverse workforce is going to be critical.”
The program, called STEPs4GROWTH, will be centered at N.C. A&T and train workers in 16 counties across the state to qualify for clean energy sector jobs.
The money comes from a fund called the Good Jobs Challenge within The American Rescue Plan, a massive COVID-19 recovery bill that Congress passed last year.
“With a focus on equity, the program is expanding career opportunities for more Americans to reach their full potential and secure good-paying jobs while producing a skilled workforce to ensure the United States is prepared to innovate, compete, and succeed in a 21st Century global economy,” the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s website says.
STEPs4GROWTH is designed to support underserved communities, including people of color, women, formerly-incarcerated people and veterans.
Cooper delivered the announcement on campus in Greensboro alongside U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo.
“We are on a mission to make sure that every American regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, how old they are, whether they’re in recovery, formerly incarcerated — has a chance to get a real job,” she said.
More than 40 employers are involved in the program, including Siemens Energy, Duke Energy, Blue Ridge Power and Strata Clean Energy. They have pledged to hire 3,000 new people in the area over the next four years and 1,500 more for each year to follow.
“That’s the key here — we don’t start with the training, we start with the job,” Raimondo said.
N.C. A&T is one of 32 grant recipients selected from more than 500 applicants to the Good Jobs Challenge, which announced Wednesday that it had granted $500 million to workforce development programs nationwide. The EDA projects this program will create 50,000 jobs.
The Hampton Roads region, which covers Virginia and North Carolina, will also receive $11 million to invest in clean energy and cybersecurity jobs.
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