Partnership was the word of the day recently as northeast Mississippi’s workforce received a major boost when Mississippi Silicon, LLC of Tishomingo County and its investor Rural Development Partners (RDP) of Forest City, Iowa donated $100,000 to Northeast Mississippi Community College.
Mississippi Silicon and RDP’s donation will help the Booneville-based college with workforce training and an addition to the college’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) lab at the Northeast at Corinth campus.
“We’re so appreciative of Mississippi Silicon and Eddie (Broadwine) and his group to join in with us and provide this for our students,” said Northeast president Dr. Ricky G. Ford. “It’s about forming partnerships with people in the community. When we do that, we combine our resources and increase the opportunities for our students.”
Northeast’s Corinth campus already has a Workforce Industrial Maintenance Lab via the college’s Division of Workforce Training and Economic Development and with the addition of an HVAC lab, officials can see the added benefits.
Officials stated that Mississippi Silicon’s donation will give maintenance technicians in the Northeast 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.
“This partnership goes back several years now. We began discussions about this training in 2016 or 2017,” said Northeast vice president of satellite campuses, director of the NEMCC Corinth campus and director of workforce development Ben Shappley. “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.”
One of the main needs was a multi-skilled workforce that can perform a wide variety of jobs. Not only do companies benefit from the training but employees do as well.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, HVAC and Control jobs in Mississippi pay approximately $40,000 but as part of a multi-skilled maintenance technician, such as the ones that Northeast produces, those workers can expect to make $57,000 or more.
Northeast and Mississippi Silicon’s partnership was part of the Rural Development Partners (RDP) and Mississippi Silicon Project Grant that has helped both the college and the 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,” said Mississippi Silicon chief operating officer Eddie Boardwine. “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.”
Northeast’s proximity to the Mississippi Silicon plant in Tishomingo County made it a prime partner for the organization.
“(Northeast) is actually very close to the plant site here. 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.”
Northeast’s Corinth campus sits less than 17 miles from the plant and the college’s main campus in Booneville just over 20 miles away.
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 stating that every large facility or tenant, whether it was manufacturing, health care, commercial or residential needed maintenance technicians with HVAC skills.
Northeast’s vice president of institutional advancement and executive director the Northeast Development Foundation and Alumni Association Patrick Eaton 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.”