As far back as 2009, Nacogdoches County officials, in partnership with local businessmen and educators, worked together to establish a Technical Training Center in Nacogdoches. In late 2010, the Nacogdoches County Commissioner's Court demonstrated its commitment to establish the Nacogdoches County Career and Technical Training Center by purchasing a 28,000 sq.ft. former beer distributorship facility located at 6003 North Street in Nacogdoches, Texas. The facility, located on 4.5 acres of land on US-59 Business has been refurbished into a technical training center with classrooms and lab space.
The Nacogdoches Technical Training Center is owned by Nacogdoches ISD, with Angelina College serving as the education partner. On Thursday, January 21, 2016, Nacogdoches ISD celebrated the official opening of the Nacogdoches Technical Training Center and the new location of the Malcolm Rector Technical High School.
The Nacogdoches County Commissioner’s Court and County Judge, in partnership with the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation (Nacogdoches EDC) and representatives from the local business community and education establishment, worked to establish a technical training center in Nacogdoches that would provide bankable job skills (i.e. welding, HVAC, electrician, petroleum technology, nurse’s aide, automotive technology, etc.) to non-college bound students; to provide a technical training facility for local companies that also serves as a conduit for state workforce training incentive programs; and to provide targeted adult education training classes for citizens to improve their education and skills. In addition, the tech center will offer GED and English as a Second Language courses.
Our servicing community college, Angelina College, is located 45 minutes away in a neighboring county, a distance that limits its useful access by local employers and high school students.
Nothing is as critical to the future of the economy of Nacogdoches as our ability to provide local employers with a skilled and reliable workforce in sufficient numbers to meet their requirements. The quality of our workforce is far-and-away our most important attribute. We must do everything we can to ensure that it remains an asset and not a liability and that requires constant and continuous training.
Nacogdoches County lags the U.S. and the State of Texas when it comes to educational attainment. Only 24.9% of the adults in Nacogdoches County have at least a college degree, and only 80.4% have at least a high school diploma. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009-2013).
In addition, Nacogdoches County is aging at a rate faster than the U.S. and Texas. (See “A Study to Determine the Feasibility of a Workforce Technical Training Center in Nacogdoches, TX”, page 7) A principle reason is that 28.1% of our youth leave the County to seek a post-secondary education and, of those who leave, 75% will find employment elsewhere (See Feasibility study, page 16). Those who remain make up our local workforce.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020, 65% of all new jobs in Texas will require at least two years of post-secondary education and 1-2 industry certifications through technical schools, military, community college or industrial certifications. (See Feasibility Study, page 6).
Nacogdoches County has also been hit hard by Mother Nature. In addition to the tremendous physical damage inflicted upon Nacogdoches County as a result of Hurricane Ike in September 2008, nearly 1,500 county residents lost their jobs in the aftermath. (See Tab 5 – “Job Loss Impact on Low-to-Moderate Income Population”).
According to data provided by the Texas Workforce Commission, first-time unemployment benefits were given to 810 Nacogdoches County claimants in the 6 months following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike, and to 1,468 claimants in the first 12 months. While many who lost their jobs in the immediate aftermath were able to obtain temporary jobs in the extended cleanup effort, eventually those temporary jobs disappeared.
The impact of Hurricane Ike was felt especially hard in our low-to-moderate income community. Of the 1,468 Nacogdoches County residents who lost their jobs and who filed for unemployment payments in aftermath of Hurricane Ike, the majority had annual incomes of less than $30,000 (See Tab 5). As a basis for comparison, the median household income (HHI) for Nacogdoches County is $37,240, while the Texas median HHI is $73,670 and the national median HHI is $53,046. (Source: Texas Wide Open 2014).
Many of these jobs will probably never come back. Thus, it was critically important to establish a tech center in Nacogdoches County that would help retrain these individuals and arm them with the job skills that would enable them to take their rightful place in the middle class and enjoy the fruits of the American Dream.
The handwriting is on the wall for rural communities like Nacogdoches. How are we going to ensure our young people have the job skills necessary to enable them to obtain good-paying jobs and participate in the American Dream? What are we doing to ensure our local businesses are able to find workers with sufficient skills and in sufficient quantities to enable those businesses to continue to be successful in Nacogdoches County?
An outside consultant was contracted to conduct a Needs Assessment to validate the requirement for the Tech Center. The assessment was completed in February 2010 and validated the need for the Tech Center.
Impact DataSource, based in Austin, Texas, performed an economic impact and job creation analysis for the Tech Center. Over the first 10 years, it is projected the Tech Center will support $32.6 million in economic activity in the Nacogdoches County area. In addition, the Tech Center will support 73 area jobs with annual salaries of $3.53 million. (See “A Report of the Economic Impact of Angelina College Nacogdoches Tech Center,” page 4).
Students who graduate from the Technical Training Center will enter the workforce with the skills for higher paying jobs. An analysis of the first 10 years, which assumes 60% of the Tech Center's graduates will remain and work in Nacogdoches County, projects an estimated cumulative earnings of nearly $460 million. (See Economic Impact Analysis, page 14).
Our plan was to begin with a 25,000 sq. ft. facility consisting of a mixture of classrooms and shop/lab space. Nacogdoches County, as a demonstration of its commitment, purchased a former beer distributorship facility that has been retrofitted into a tech center at an estimated cost of roughly $3.6 million. This compares to an estimated cost of $5.6 million to build the facility from the ground up. In addition to the significant cost savings, it also gave new life to an existing unused building.
The buildings (a 25,000 sq. ft. main building and a 2,800 sq. ft. annex) sit on a 4.5-acre site on US-59 Business and offers easy access to buses from local high schools, as well to employees of local businesses. A property appraisal was performed by William J. Lyon & Associates and appraised the property at $700,000.
For its part, the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation (Nacogdoches EDC) has committed $75,000 over the last five years toward construction and remodeling of the facility.