BOONEVILLE • Northeast Mississippi Community College received a $100,000 donation on Wednesday from Mississippi Silicon and its investor Rural Development Partners (RDP) to help the college with workforce training and fund an addition to the college’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) lab at Northeast’s Corinth campus.
Northeast President Dr. Ricky G. Ford said the college is appreciative of Mississippi Silicon for helping to provide new opportunities for students.
“It’s about forming partnerships with people in the community,” Ford said. “When we do that, we combine our resources and increase the opportunities for our students.”
NEMCC’s Corinth campus already has a Workforce Industrial Maintenance Lab via the college’s Division of Workforce Training and Economic Development, and the addition of an HVAC lab will further benefit students.
Mississippi Silicon’s donation will give maintenance technicians in the NEMCC program a competitive advantage by allowing them to apply for jobs in a high-demand job market in the Northeast Mississippi area, the state and around the nation.
HVAC and Control jobs in Mississippi pay approximately $40,000, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, but a multi-skilled maintenance technician, like the ones Northeast produces, can expect to make $57,000 or more.
“This partnership goes back several years now. We began discussions about this training in 2016 or 2017,” Ben Shappley, NEMCC Vice President of Satellite Campuses and Director of the NEMCC Corinth campus, said. “We met with representatives from Mississippi Silicon and discussed what their needs were and not for just this company but for the area in general.”
Northeast and Mississippi Silicon’s partnership was part of the RDP and Mississippi Silicon Project Grant that has helped both the college and company since the company located its plant in Tishomingo County.
“We needed very good maintenance folks, and we wanted them to be very highly trained; Northeast is the place to do that,” Eddie Boardwine, Mississippi Silicon’s chief operating officer, said. “We wanted to make sure that we were making the right investments with the right partnerships to do that. We make investments in education and learning. We’ve hired a lot of new people and this has been a great site since it was built here in 2015.”
With Northeast’s Corinth campus less than 17 miles from the plant and its main Booneville campus just over 20 miles away, the college’s proximity to Mississippi Silicon in Tishomingo County made it a prime partner.
“We have actually trained several of their employees already,” Shappley said. “They are pleased with the employees that we are producing and the training we are providing. For them to donate this kind of money, it speaks highly to what Northeast is providing to this company and the surrounding companies as well.”
During the Rural Development Partners/Mississippi Silicon Project Grant application, officials cited a need for HVAC skills training as one of the top needs listed for workers in the area, according to NEMCC. Officials said that every large facility or tenant, whether it was manufacturing, health care, commercial or residential, needed maintenance technicians with HVAC skills.
Patrick Eaton, NEMCC’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement, sees the partnership as one that will benefit both organizations for years to come.
“This provided so many opportunities for our students to get some additional training that they need,” Eaton said. “It’s always important that we have great corporate citizens. Mississippi Silicon is one of those that just stepped up today and given us a $100,000 gift.”