With the help of workforce funding and local support, Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) has begun a Commercial Drivers’ License (CDL) program. Key to the local support was the donation of a tractor truck by local businessman Samuel Noble of Noble LLC.
The 160-hour program, which started May 6, will train students to earn their Class A CDL and endorsements. The program also is partially funded through a $285,000 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant, which will help support the program through June 2020. Priority admission is given to those who qualify for WIOA benefits; potential students may contact their local Alabama Career Center office to learn if they qualify.
Local support for the location of the truck driving training center also came from Scottsboro Mayor Robin Shelton, Blake Wright and the Scottsboro Industrial Development Board, and the Jackson County Economic Development Authority. The training center is being housed in Scottsboro’s Goosepond Industrial Park.
“This project is a great example of how a group can work together and establish a partnership that is beneficial to the community,” NACC President Dr. David Campbell said. “As many know, there is a great need for commercial drivers in our area, as there is in the state and nationally. We will begin to address this shortage with our program and at the same time create some great job opportunities for our people. I can’t thank Mr. Noble enough for his donation. This donation was the key piece that we needed to establish the program.”
Mr. Noble stated, “We are excited about the new program. I have had to watch numerous friends leave our area to find good paying jobs. Most love our county for the obvious reasons, but move to be closer to better paying work. This program will help alleviate that problem.”
Truck driving is one of the occupations with the most job openings in Alabama. In Alabama and nationwide and the demand for truck drivers is expected to continue steady growth. Campbell noted that locally the great need for a truck driving program was first brought up at a meeting of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority, of which he serves as chair. Campbell also serves on the WIOA North Alabama regional workforce committee.
Chris Peek, of Section, was hired to teach and operate the program. Peek comes to NACC with many years of over-the-road experience as an owner-operator and most recently drove for Noble.
“Our grant of $285,000 from the Region 1 Workforce Council obviously was a key our getting this program started as well,” Dr. Campbell stated. “We are extremely grateful for this start-up grant. These CDL programs are very expensive to start and to operate. Financially, most programs are a break-even type of operation, but by establishing this program, we feel we are fulfilling a real community need for economic growth and for jobs for people in our area. We especially thank the Region 1 Workforce Council and the Alabama Department of Commerce for providing this grant.”
Grant funds are provided through the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014. “Our Dean of Workforce Development and Job Skills Training, Dr. Mike Kennamer, did just an outstanding job writing the grant for the program,” Campbell noted. “He worked very hard putting the pieces of this program together as well. His work was indispensable to this project.”
Dr. Mike Kennamer stated that those interested in the program should contact Mrs. Julie George, Skills Training Coordinator at NACC, at 256-638-4418 or 256-228-6001, ext. 2214 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. “Because we want to assure that our program graduates have adequate behind-the-wheel time, we only accept four students at a time,” noted Kennamer. “We start and finish a new class every month and hope to start a weekend class soon.” Priority admission is given to those who qualify for WIOA benefits; potential students may contact their local Alabama Career Center office to learn if they qualify.