MERIDIAN — The U.S. Department of Commerce announced a $1.5 million grant Monday to help Meridian Community College renovate and expand the college’s workforce development center.
College President Scott Elliott said the grant will allow the college to complete work on the center, housed in a former Wal-Mart store.
“Communities who are successful in attracting new industry tend to have such contemporary training facilities in place,” he wrote in an email. “Meridian needs one, too, if we are to compete well for new industry into the future.”
The money will improve the interior and exterior of the 60,000 square-foot building on Mississippi 19 about a mile north of the 3,400-student college’s main campus. The building will host classrooms for computer training, industrial maintenance, electrical technology, welding, truck driving, construction trades, manufacturing and distribution. Elliott said the space will be flexible, to accommodate changing needs.
Elliott said the college has already invested more than $3 million in the structure.
“We’ve been making progress piecemeal so far,” he wrote. “This grant along with some additional financing will finally bring the project to fruition. When it’s all said and done, the building won’t be referred to as ‘the old Wal-Mart.'”
The Commerce Department says the center is projected to train more than 2,000 workers and facilitate more than $44 million in private investment over the next five years, with the college identifying 18 industries and businesses as potential beneficiaries.
“The investment announced today will help boost Meridian Community College’s capacity to develop the skilled workforce that local employers demand,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams.