The decision to go after funding to bring back or expand automotive technology and transportation-related programs came from several conversations Ellis had with local employers when he took over at CLTCC.
"They talked about all the money they were spending to train their staff, as well as all the money they were spending to recruit and train new technicians," he said.
Talking with colleagues at other institutions, Ellis found they were having similar issues. With the idea that "we could make this so much more powerful if we do this collectively," Ellis said, the four schools formed the Southeastern Transportation Network.
CLTCC will begin offering programs at its Alexandria and Leesville campuses in the 2015 spring semester. The goal is to expand to some of the other campuses starting in the 2015 fall semester.
"We are excited about this training initiative because it means there will be trained individuals in our area to select from when filling these types of positions," said Clint Murphy, general manager of All-Star Toyota in Alexandria. "Currently, we have to travel outside of Central Louisiana to find skilled labor, which is not our preference. We have good-paying jobs right here, and we want to hire our local workforce."
"The $2 million grant is a great victory for CLTCC and countless others who worked very hard to secure these funds," said Rand Alford, owner of Alford Motors in Leesville. "We look forward to partnering with CLTCC to provide an on-the-job training facility for future automotive technicians. We hope some of the students choose to continue working with us after graduation and become part of the Alford Motors team."