PORT OF WEST ST. MARY, La. – Progress is continuing on the proposed welding training facility at the Port of West St. Mary. Tests of the soil were recently completed to determine conditions for designing and constructing the facility’s foundation, parking, and other features.
Earlier this year, the Port Commission of West St. Mary announced a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to aid in constructing a welding training facility on port grounds. This will be combined with $450,000 in state capital outlay funds.
State Representative Sam Jones and Senator Bret Allain led an effort in repurposing state funds to build the facility on the Charenton Navigation and Drainage Canal across from Metal Shark and Gulf Craft’s facility sites.
The training facility will aid local companies in filling critical needs for skilled aluminum welders. South Louisiana Community College will place its instructors in the facility to run the program.
“This project is a pro-active way to help this area in a slow economy,” said Senator Allain. “Aluminum boat-building has been an economic engine in this region and providing trained workers for this industry is a necessity for its growth. This training will provide much-needed jobs for my district, and I have been happy to spearhead these efforts.”
“This is our effort to reach into the future as we redefine and diversify our economy,” said Representative Jones. “This is where the jobs of tomorrow manifest themselves today.”
Next steps include preliminary design work to determine the floor plan, size, and design criteria of the facility, including architectural, civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing specifications.
“The Port of West St. Mary is pleased to partner with the South Louisiana Community College to construct a welding training facility at the Port's Industrial Park located on the Charenton Navigational Canal,” said David Allain, executive director of the Port of West St. Mary. “As the need for skilled workers in the area grows, the Port of West St. Mary has secured an Economic Development Administration Grant along with state Capital Outlay funds to construct this much needed facility. The Port looks forward to working with SLCC and the opportunity to provide skilled labor to fill the needs of local industry.”
A finalized design on the facility is expected in early 2019, with construction slated for spring/summer 2019.
“St. Mary Chamber congratulates the Port of West St. Mary for taking the initiative to build a welding training facility that will help fill the needs of our parish,” said Jo Anne Bergeron, chairwoman of the St. Mary Chamber and Donna Mayer, chamber president. “Local training means local hiring. We applaud the efforts of South Louisiana Community College for responding to our workforce issues.”
“We are very excited to play a role with our partners in St. Mary Parish to find way to educate people right where they live and work,” said Dr. Natalie Harder, SLCC chancellor. “It is great to see communities identifying opportunities to meet workforce needs.”
ABOUT ACADIANA’S COMMUNITY COLLEGE
South Louisiana Community College is a comprehensive community college that operates campuses in Abbeville, Crowley, Franklin, Houma, Lafayette, Morgan City, New Iberia, Opelousas, St. Martinville, and Ville Platte. The college serves more than 15,000 students annually and offers an array of academic programs. Students earn associate degrees, technical diplomas, certificates, and industry-based certifications. It is ranked 14th among the Top 100 Associate Degree Producers as determined by Community College Week.