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Contact: Public Affairs Department, (202) 482-4085
Thursday, September 20, 2012

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $1 Million to Help Equip Training and Development Center in Amarillo, Texas

WASHINGTON - Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank today announced a $1 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to Amarillo College in Amarillo, Texas, to help purchase equipment for the Hereford Campus Training and Development Center. The center will work to provide a trained, skilled workforce for emerging area industries in a disaster-stricken, four-county region. The project will support students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

"This $1 million Economic Development Administration investment is an example of the Obama administration's commitment to ensuring that the American workforce has the education and skills needed to compete in a 21st century economy," said Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. "The grant announced today will help Amarillo College in Texas support students in STEM fields, preparing them for good-paying, high-quality jobs that are crucial to ensuring that America continues to innovate and compete in the global economy."

Over the last decade, the number of STEM job openings grew three times as fast as openings for other types of jobs. In recent years, however, only about 13 percent of U.S. college graduates have obtained degrees in the STEM fields, which typically provide good-paying, high-quality jobs and produce many of the inventors and entrepreneurs who are driving American innovation and competitiveness.

When it opens, Amarillo College's Hereford Campus Training and Development Center will help revitalize the economy of the Amarillo region, a primarily agricultural area that suffered severe losses from drought and wildfires in 2011. The new center will provide long-term growth opportunities for the region by preparing workers with the skills needed to take advantage of opportunities in a more diverse mix of industries, especially the region's renewable energy sector, which is experiencing strong growth following an investment of more than $10 billion by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in infrastructure for the creation of Competitive Renewable Energy Zones. This infrastructure investment will create an increased demand for skilled workers in other sectors, such as manufacturing, industrial maintenance, trucking and small equipment operation, renewable energy, and other sectors that require training in STEM fields.

This project is part of a $200 million appropriation made by Congress to EDA to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal year 2011 with long-term economic recovery and infrastructure support.

Within the context of the administration's National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), EDA serves as the Coordinating Agency on behalf of the Department of Commerce for the Economic Recovery Support Function (RSF) to coordinate the activities of a diverse group of partner agencies supporting recovery in disaster-impacted communities. The activities consist primarily of improved information sharing and the leveraging of existing resources to make a positive impact for communities affected by disasters.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.