Officials break ground on new welding technology training center in Guymon

Staff Writer

Federal $1.5 million grant funds new joint facility for Oklahoma Panhandle State University, High Plains Technology Center and Guymon Public Schools

Federal and state representatives joined administrators, faculty and students from Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) and High Plains Technology Center (HPTC) to break ground on an innovative new technology center that streamlines education from high school into a trade education and on to college.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration jointly granted $1.5 million to OPSU and HPTC to build a new welding technology training center in the Guymon Industrial Park. The project is designed to set a degree program for those interested in a career in welding that sees them from high school graduation to a bachelors or associates degree.

“We are physically breaking ground with shovels but also introducing a ground-breaking new educational program to blend the best of trade and academic education,” said OPSU President, Dr. Tim Faltyn. “We are starting this program with a new welding center, but we believe the concept is transformative for the region and will soon expand to other career applications for our students and the communities of the Panhandle.”

“This innovative educational approach is an ideal fit with our mission to serve the workforce needs of Northwest Oklahoma and the Panhandle, as well as our commitment to make Oklahoma a top ten state in education programming,” noted Dwight R. Hughes, HPTC Superintendent/CEO. “This grant will give us the ability to enhance our already existing partnership with OPSU by providing a joint facility we can utilize to bring the best of both worlds together.”

When the center opens, students can earn their Welding Certificate at HPTC while also taking academic classes at OPSU to earn an associate or bachelor degree.

“The Oklahoma Panhandle offers the ideal intersection of outstanding educational institutions and a rich potential workforce pool. When completed, this new center should become an education model for other technical programs and a new economic engine for the region,” said Cornell Wesley, Economic Development Representative for the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

The grant will find the construction of a 10,000 square foot welding facility in Guymon. The federal grant also included nearly $400,000 in local matching funds. Industrial partners in the region estimate the center will create 30 new jobs.

This project is funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (PL 115-123), in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, wildfires, and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

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