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College Awarded $1.5 million Grant from Economic Development Administration for ATTC

College Awarded $1.5 million Grant from Economic Development Administration for ATTC

09 Nov 11

LBCC has been awarded $1.5 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help fund an alternative fuels training center in Lebanon to train automotive, trucking and heavy equipment technicians.

LBCC’s project was one of four projects chosen for funding by the EDA, part of a $7.2 million investment to support business development and job training in distressed communities in Oregon, California, Nevada and Utah.

The college’s Advanced Transportation Technology Center will be the only major broad-spectrum training facility for alternative fuel vehicles between Seattle and San Francisco, and will serve as a first step toward creating a base for alternative fuel technology in the Willamette Valley.

“The support of our partners, both in the public and private sectors, has been extraordinary,” said LBCC President Dr. Greg Hamann. "This center has the potential of positioning our area as a center for the coming wave of alternative fuel vehicles. The technology is already developed, refined, and in many cases, currently in use in other parts of the country and world. What’s missing locally is the people who can repair and maintain these vehicles, along with the places to refuel them. This center will fill that void.”

Students in LBCC’s automotive and heavy equipment programs will received hands-on training using state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment in research, installation, maintenance, conversion and operation of high-efficiency alternative fuel technologies including compressed natural gas, propane, electric and biodiesel as well as traditional fuel vehicles. The center will also be used to train technicians already in the field.

Oregon U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden are supporters of LBCC’s project, and were quoted in a recent release from Senator Merkley’s office.

“Last year I was able to travel from the Washington border to the California border in an electric vehicle,” said Senator Merkley, chair of the Green Jobs subcommittee in the Senate.  “A few years ago that type of trip wouldn’t have been possible. This new center will educate and train a new generation of workers for this expanding industry and help lay the groundwork to keep Oregon at the forefront of clean energy manufacturing and transportation.”    

Senator Wyden said, “This is a great example of a public/private partnership. The Advanced Transportation Technology Center at Linn-Benton Community College will meet the need for highly skilled and trained transportation technicians at a time when the demand for alternative fuels and alternative-fueled vehicles is growing. This is the right program at the right time and at the right place.”

The EDA grant will be used to renovate an existing 35,000-square-foot industrial building, part of an 11-acre industrial site purchased by the college in 2012. The building will house LBCC’s automotive technology program, and will include an alternative fuels lab. Classes are slated to begin in the new center fall term 2013.

The grant also will be used to construction a 10,000-square-foot innovation center beginning winter 2014. Future plans include the construction of compressed natural gas and propane fueling stations, and electrical charging stations.

LBCC is continuing to raise funds to support moving its heavy equipment and diesel program to the center, with plans for an additional 20,000-square-foot building to be built on the site.

The college has raised approximately $6.2 million for the project. In addition to the EDA grant, major funding for the center includes more than $2 million in private donations, $1.4 million from the City of Lebanon Urban Renewal District, $800,000 from Oregon lottery funds, $100,000 from the Lebanon Industrial Development Corporation, $350,000 from the Meyer Memorial Trust and $50,000 from Drive Oregon. Industry partners include Snap On, Pacific Power, John and Phil’s Toyota, and CoEnergy Propane of Corvallis.

EDA grants are awarded through a competitive process based upon the applicant’s eligibility, application merit and fund availability.