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Reagan Hales

Educational Organizations Team Up To Boost Amarillo's Economy

Communication and collaboration are the keys to success. Often, however, businesses focus more on competition than collaboration.

Several organizations in Amarillo are trying to change that.

To facilitate new growth opportunities for all industries, groups within the Amarillo area are building bridges between their operations. Who are these organizations, and how are they promoting a rich business environment?

According to Inc. Magazine, the organizations all have the same goal in mind: making Amarillo the best place for people to flourish. They’re working to achieve this goal by improving what may be Amarillo’s greatest strength: its workforce.

Keeping Education A Priority

Businesses prosper because of the skills their workers bring to the workforce. Enterprises throughout Amarillo require skills ranging from manufacturing and agriculture to project management and marketing.

Amarillo College is taking active measures to ensure employers in the region have a diverse and qualified talent pool to dip into. Russell Lowery-Hart, president of Amarillo College, has organized multiple industry-specific advisory committees to bring professors and business owners together at the table.

The committees are working to identify the skills and training businesses in the region require, as well as the steps AC can take to adjust courses and integrate training businesses desire. These ad-hoc committees are enhancing the value of an education at AC while making it possible for students to find employment in the region following graduation.

It is a proven recipe for success. Since 2009, Amarillo College has worked closely with Bell Helicopter on a similar initiative. Using $500,000 in state grants, the college offers the Aerospace Manufacturing Certificate Program.

The program creates a highly trained pool of graduates with the skills and training required to manufacture the complex machines rolling off the line at Bell's facility in Amarillo. The program has generated considerable results; approximately 35% of the company's Amarillo workforce are graduates of the program.

The Strength Of Symbiotic Relationships

Texas is a land of opportunity, and the greatest opportunities arise when the skills of the labor force meet the requirements of employers. To bridge these gaps, the Panhandle Workforce Development Board is working to bring businesses, educators, and government entities closer together.

Initiatives including the Senior Community Service Employment Program, Motivation, Education, and Training, Inc., and Panhandle Community Services create the opportunity for regional residents to enhance their skill sets to match the requirements of regional employers. These programs offer career counseling, training, and job placement assistance to thousands of workers throughout the Texas Panhandle.

In turn, these programs help create a workforce suited for the ever-changing 21st century. This reduces unemployment, creates a fertile landscape suitable for business growth, and stems the brain drain that occurs when existing skills exceed the opportunities offered by businesses in the area.

The PWDA has identified several industries and professions that hold the key to the area's economic future. These include building equipment contractors and specialty trade contractors, animal slaughtering and processing, computer systems design, administrative services, health and medical, and automotive repair and maintenance. Each of these is expected to have a job growth rate exceeding 100% over the next few years.

By building bridges between educators, community leaders, and the workforce, the Amarillo area will be well positioned for strong and stable growth in these and many other fields. 

If you want to learn more about AC and the PWDA’s steps toward creating a more diverse, skilled workforce in Amarillo, read the full article on Inc.com.

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*Image source: Inc. BrandView