DURANT, Okla. (OBV) – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will build an aerospace workforce training facility at Durant Regional Airport thanks to a $1 million federal grant.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded the grant to Southeastern OSU to fund construction of an Aerospace Technology Center.
“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is creating new opportunities for American workers across the country,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This EDA investment in Southeastern Oklahoma State University will help the region’s aviation and aerospace workforce soar by preparing workers for a wide range of careers in the aerospace industry.”
The facility will be used as a training center that will aim to grow Southeast Oklahoma’s aerospace workforce by enhancing existing training, implementing new programs and partnering with local entities, according to Oklahoma Department of Commerce officials.
“Southeastern is excited for the new opportunities this grant brings to our university and our partners, as this will enhance our ability to offer programs that serve the future economic needs in the aerospace field,” Southeastern President Dr. Thomas Newsom said. “Our university’s history of education in aviation has established a strong reputation for creating leaders in aerospace fields, and we look forward to continuing and expanding a legacy of excellence thanks in part to this grant.”
The $1 million grant will be matched with $589,000 in local funds to build the facility.
The training center is expected to create 213 jobs and bring in $8.7 million in private investment, grantee estimates show.
It will bolster Southeast Oklahoma’s aerospace industry, according to Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo
“The Economic Development Administration works closely with communities to develop place-based economic development,” Castillo said. “This project will provide new capacity for career preparation in aviation and aerospace, increase access to skills training for underserved individuals, and build a pipeline of skilled workers for regional employers, strengthening the regional economy.”
The training center will be a continuation of Southeastern OSU’s technological efforts, according to Mike Gaffney, director of the Aviation Sciences Institute at Southeastern.
“We’ve been focused on advanced technologies and collaboration with the National Science Foundation, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and other organizations. This modernization is a project that puts us right in the focus of what’s coming in the future and our collaborative efforts will pay off for so many future students, as well as businesses in our state and our region,” Gaffney said.
Southeastern OSU has launched a fundraising campaign to raise additional funds for continued development of the Aerospace Technology Center. Contact the Southeastern Foundation by calling (580) 745-2361 or visit www.SE.edu/giving if you want to donate.