Pearl River Community College has broken ground on the all-new Hancock Aviation Aerospace Workforce Academy at Stennis International Airport that is scheduled to open in late summer.
- By Lisa Monti
“This new, state-of-the-art campus will not only be a game-changer for Hancock County and the state of Mississippi but our entire Gulf Coast region as well,” said Angie Kothmann, Director of Government & Community Relations and program manager for PRCC’s new Hancock campus. “This project has taken many years and would not be possible without the collaboration and support from our partners and elected officials.”
The PRCC Academy is designed to be “multi-functional and versatile to fit the evolving needs and growth in Hancock County, so that we can remain on the forefront for research and innovative technologies in Hancock County and surrounding areas,” said Kothmann.
The 18,000-square-foot hangar, built at a cost of approximately $2.5 million, will begin offering classes in August.
Kothmann said the hangar’s Aviation Maintenance program will be the third of its kind offered by a community college in Mississippi. Students can earn an FAA commercial remote pilot’s license and an FAA airframe and propulsion certification at the hangar.
However, the hangar’s Hydrographic Technology Program will be the first two-year program of its kind in the nation offered by a community college.
“There are some similar programs throughout the United States, but nothing like what we will be doing in a two-year timeframe,” Kothmann said. “The Hydrography Technology program will teach students about mapping the sea floor and will feed into blue economy efforts ongoing around the Coast.”
The $9.5 million, 36,000-square-foot academy is scheduled to be completed in June 2024, with classes starting in August 2024. Some of the programs to be offered are Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Technologies, Business Financial and Administrative Support, and Licensed Practical Nursing, along with academic courses, workforce programs, and adult education.
The workforce and adult education programs will allow students to earn a high school equivalency and credentials needed to fill entry-level jobs. The academy will also offer free workforce development and training services, including basic employment services, and will partner with local WIN Job Centers.
“The outcome and return on investment will be measurable by increasing the number of employees with PRCC and the skilled workforce we will be providing with degrees, certificates, and workforce development skills to align with jobs created by this industry,” Kothmann said.
Funding sources for the academy project include the Mississippi Legislature, RESTORE Act Grant, and Coast Electric Power Association Grant. Additional funding for the Academy came from an EDA Disaster Supplemental Grant and Gulf Coast Restoration Funds.
“We are grateful for the overwhelming support provided by our Federal, State, and Local delegation, as well as our business and organization partnerships,” Pearl River president Dr. Adam Breerwood said. “This academy will serve as an economic engine for the entire region. Our goal is to provide the premier educational and workforce development opportunities necessary to train our workforce to compete in a global market.”
Kothmann said, “PRCC is constantly improving the quality of life in our communities by being affordable and accessible to everyone. The addition of the PRCC Hancock Aviation Aerospace Workforce Academy is one more way to ensure Hancock County is competitive when attracting industries, ensuring we have a pipeline of skilled workers available – and, most importantly, keeping it a place everyone can be proud to live in.”
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