Ozarks Technical Community College will pursue an expansion of its Diesel Technology Program thanks to a $1 million grant from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. OTC will seek an additional $1 million in private funds to secure the capital for the expansion.
“We are excited and grateful to receive this grant and I want to thank Sen. Roy Blunt for shepherding the grant through the Department of Commerce for OTC,” said Dr. Hal Higdon, chancellor of Ozarks Technical Community College. “The expansion will allow us to train more diesel mechanics to walk out of graduation into high-paying jobs.”
The money will be used to expand the Industry and Transportation Technology Center on the OTC Springfield Campus located at the corner of National Avenue and Central Street. OTC will add four new truck bays and four classrooms with learning labs. Currently, the Diesel Technology Program is at capacity, but the expansion will allow for an additional 50 students each year, which will equate to approximately 35 more graduates annually. Currently, between its one-year certificate and two-year associate degree, OTC graduates approximately 35 diesel technicians each year.
OTC accompanied its grant application with letters of support from: Prime, Inc., Peterbilt of Springfield, Tri-State Truck Center, Thermo King of Springfield, LLC, Central State Core Supply, Jenkins Diesel, Steelman Transportation, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Ozarks Region Workforce Development Board. The letters detailed how the expansion of OTC’s program would help fill the regional need for additional diesel technicians.
“We rely on OTC to provide trained technicians,” wrote Jim Towery, president of Steelman Transportation. “Due to the current limitations of the physical space, OTC struggles to keep up with industry demand.”
The Economic Development Administration states that its goal is to make investments in communities to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. OTC’s grant application aligned with EDA’s goal.
“The Obama administration and the Department of Commerce have made skills and workforce development a top priority,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in a news release. “This EDA investment will allow for expansion of a diesel mechanics training center that is working to ensure that local workers are prepared to meet regional business demands.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a diesel mechanic in Springfield is more than $41,000.