DRA announces $2 million investment to advance workforce initiatives at Coahoma Community College

LtoR: Dr. Valmadge T. Towner, 5th President, Coahoma Community College, Congressman Benny G. Thompson, US Representative for Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District, • Deputy Secretary Torres Small, USDA-RD, Dr. Corey Wiggins, Federal Co-Chair, Delta Regional Authority, & Stephen Jossell, Executive Director, CCC Center for Workforce Development

CLARKSDALE, MS – The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) announced that $2,051,027 will be invested in the Coahoma Community College (CCC) Workforce Development Center. The funds will assist CCC in expanding and renovating the Ned W. Gathwright Workforce Development Center with the ultimate goal of increasing workforce training and services in CCC’s five-county service area.

Dr. Corey Wiggins, DRA Federal Co-Chair, is excited to offer assistance that he believes will immediately impact countless people in Coahoma Community College’s five-county service area and beyond.

“This is an exciting opportunity to make a workforce investment in the context of this funding going to Coahoma Community College,” Wiggins said. “Coahoma is a stable institution in the Delta region and a historic institution that has done work in the past and in the present to really change lives.”

The funding, which comes at a time of unprecedented support offered throughout the DRA region, will help build an additional 4,477 square feet of space at the Clarksdale-based center, adding a manufacturing training lab, classroom and office space. In addition, the project will finance the renovation of the existing structure.

Stephen Jossell, executive director of CCC’s Center for Workforce Development, is grateful for the support from all angles. He sees this investment as a huge value add for CCC, the surrounding communities and the Delta region.

“It is a wonderful, inexplicable feeling to be the recipient of a substantial financial blessing to expand the Workforce Development Center at Coahoma Community College,” Jossel said. “The additional space will provide training capacity for more people and increase the talent pool for employers. In short, the additional space will provide the resources to retain more instructors, offer more classes, and address business/industry needs relative to growth.”

“Anytime we can make investments that will allow us to support workforce development and add more training to the workforce in the region is a plus. And it’s always a great opportunity to do it in a way that will highlight the work of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs),” added Wiggins.

Founded in 1949, Coahoma Community College is the only HBCU among Mississippi’s 15 community colleges. The institution is located in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and stands alongside more than 40 HBCUs that are located in the DRA’s service area.

At a time when HBCUs are a hot topic in the news and media, Dr. Wiggins believes that beyond the current hype, these minority-serving institutions need elevation more than ever. He added that the history, heritage and overall positive outcomes produced by these historic institutions should be supported and nurtured – all actions that would help create a strong DRA region.

“This is a great opportunity to make an impact,” Wiggins said of supporting HBCUs. “The DRA region is an HBCU-rich and minority-serving region. It makes sense to develop strong ties with these institutions because of the work they do.”

A key component of the work Wiggins talked about is done through the actions of CCC’s Center for Workforce Development. The department provides a variety of services and acts as a liaison between Coahoma Community College, the business community and the workforce. Through this funding opportunity, CCC is planning new initiatives and creating new partnerships to change the volatile trajectory in its service area.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the impact Coahoma has had in the Delta, even before I was appointed to this position,” Wiggins said. “I learned about the role Coahoma Community College has played in this region not only by changing and transforming the lives of its students and acting as an economic engine by helping to build a competent and capable workforce.”

Congressman Benny G. Thompson, US Representative for Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District, and Deputy Secretary Torres Small, USDA-RD, attended and made remarks during the historic announcement.


About Delta Regional Authority

The DRA was established in 2000 as a formal framework for joint federal-state cooperation to encourage and promote economic development of the lower Mississippi River region and Alabama’s Black Belt.

DRA invests in projects supporting transport infrastructure, basic public infrastructure, workforce training and business development. DRA’s mission is to help create jobs, build communities and improve the lives of those who live in the eight-state region’s 252 counties and parishes.

About Coahoma Community College

Coahoma Community College is an accredited public comprehensive institution of higher education committed to providing affordable, accessible, diverse and quality educational programs and services. The ninety-nine-acre campus is located in an agricultural setting along the Clarksdale-Friars Point Road near the Mississippi River, which forms the western border of Coahoma County. Bordered to the east by a quiet and picturesque lake, the school site is conducive to both full-fledged recreation and serious study.

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