Hillsborough Community College is picking up a $350,000 economic development grant that federal officials say will help create a new training initiative for jobs in both the transportation and diesel technologies sectors.
The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, and will specifically fund renovations for 7,800 square feet of existing space that will house HCC’s new Diesel/Marine Diesel/Transit Training Center.
“The Tampa Bay community must stay focused on boosting higher wage jobs,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, in a release.
“The grant will help continue to build a sustainable workforce for our community,” said HCC president Ken Atwater. “Transportation and logistics is an imperative component of our region’s economic vitality. Programs such as the automotive, welding, and a future diesel mechanic program will help fill the need for local highly trained workers.”
The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation’s 2014-15 report projects the need for qualified technicians and mechanics for aircraft, automobiles, buses, trucks and other diesel vehicles at approximately 2,000 annually for the Tampa Bay region, according to a release. That same report also projects a mean salary of $19 an hour for bus and truck mechanics, as well as diesel engine specialists.
“In the Tampa Bay area, there are more than 130,000 commercial vehicles with diesel engines, and at some point, they all need to be serviced,” said Oscar Horton, chief executive of Sun State International, a local full-service truck dealership, in a release. “The industry is running out of the very people we need to fulfill these very important needs.”