CCCTC Eyes $8M Expansion to Help Train for Emerging Jobs

LISBON, Ohio – With hybrid and electric vehicles expected to take over in the future, there will be careers for those who know how to work on them and with them.

The Columbiana County Career and Technical Center is planning an $8 million expansion to gain the space, the equipment and the training that instructors will require to teach emerging careers like EVs.

Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development, visited the career center Tuesday, meeting students, instructors, auto dealers and school officials from across the county interested in making certain the CCCTC is able to continue offering the training students need for the careers they want.

“Dealership representatives in the area say they need a workforce for maintaining and repairing electric vehicles. We’re also in the Voltage Valley – we know there is a skills gap,” said Assistant Superintendent Jeremy Corbisello, adding that hopefully this plan will meet the needs of both dealerships and manufacturers.

Built in 1977, the career center has spaces constructed for 12 students, but most of the programs taught there have up to 25 students today. The proposed addition would create new space for both the automotive tech and automotive collision and repair programs, giving the program the opportunity to work on electric vehicles with the new equipment, including lifts capable of managing the increased weight of EVs.

Drawings of the expansion and renovation plans at the CCCTC.

The additional facility would have the space to train both students and adult learners in the safety measures and necessary skills to work on both combustible engines and EVs. The addition would also free up space at the school, in the labs that currently house the automotive programs. Corbisello said construction tech would then move into the former automotive lab spaces. That would free up space to add programs to teach additional needed skills in solar and energy storage, semiconductors and robotics.

“So, hopefully, we can provide students with a vast array of training that could lend itself to manufacturing, technology and emerging careers,” Corbisello said. “We’re training students for jobs that don’t exist yet.”

The CCCTC has $3 million of the anticipated $8 million that will be needed to build the addition and equip the space. Corbisello and others in the room Tuesday have been applying for additional funding, including career exploration and expansion dollars available through the governor’s office.

Having more than 30 people attend a roundtable discussion from various organizations and schools interested in the proposed project impressed Mihalik.

“I’m encouraged by the partnership. I’m encouraged by the energy. But, most importantly, I’m encouraged by the potential,” Mihalik said. “This is an exciting project. I think it fits well with the strategy. I think there are a lot of different components to the electric vehicle market. I think regardless of whether or not it is an internal combustion engine or an electric vehicle, we need people in the industry. Whether you are talking to a manufacturer or a local dealer, they know the demand is there.”

With a push across the state toward industry credentials, apprenticeships and skills training, Mihalik sees the importance of career training centers.

“What I think is great about our career and technical centers is they understand what the demand is, and they are doing their best to meet that demand and they are doing it for the betterment of the community,” Mihalik said, adding there are multiple industries that are being watched for job growth in Ohio during this administration.

Chris Jackson, a Beaver Local student in the CCCTC’s automotive collision and repair program.

Chris Jackson, a Beaver Local senior attending the CCCTC, is about to start his second year in the Automotive Collision and Repair program. But he will soon earn his master automotive technician certification. He has been using the skills he learned last year at the CCCTC to do pre-apprenticeship work as a diesel mechanic at Hill International.

Jackson said the company approached him a few weeks ago about training for his master automotive technician certification and has offered to send him for additional training in Chicago after he graduates. He has been working at Hill International for nearly a year and plans to continue working there in the evenings during the upcoming school year.

Although he will graduate long before the proposed expansion project is completed, Jackson said he is very excited to see his school expanding and making opportunities for more students.

“It’s very exciting,” Jackson said. “It just feels like it is just going to bring the community more together than what it is. People around here are amazing. They are there to help you, and anything you need, they’ve got your back. It’s very, very exciting to see everything expanding and people coming together to make things happen.”

Pictured at top: From left are Jeremy Corbisello, Columbiana County Career and Technical Center assistant superintendent; Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development; and Jessica Borza, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.