Harder Secures Largest Economic Development Award in County History for VOLT Institute
Harder Worked to Ensure Development Program Was Funded after Trump Administration Proposed Its Total Elimination
WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, announced a $980,753.00 federal investment in Opportunity Stanislaus, formally known as the Stanislaus Business Alliance. It will expand the Valley Occupational Learning and Technology (VOLT) Institute as part of a new collaborative effort called “Building A Brighter Tomorrow” alongside Modesto Junior College (MJC) and the Stanislaus County Office of Education. The funding, made available through the Economic Development Agency’s (EDA’s) Economic Adjustment Assistance program, will be used to purchase new skills education equipment to expand programs at VOLT and MJC.
This is the largest investment through the EDA to an organization in Stanislaus County in the history of the agency. Only one previous investment was made by EDA to the City of Riverbank in 2010 and totaled $144,000.
“This is huge news – we’ve got all these talented people in the Valley who want good-paying jobs close to home, but they don’t always have the skills or experience they need to fill them. VOLT has already proven they can step in to fix this problem, and now they’re going to have even more capacity to get people prepped and into a good career,” said Rep. Harder. “It’s good for businesses looking to hire, it’s great for workers, and it’s one more way we can signal to employers outside of our area that we have a high-skilled workforce ready to get the job done.”
Rep. Harder Tours the VOLT Institute
“The feedback we keep getting from employers is that our program is solid but that having equipment in the classroom similar to the machines students will be using in the field after graduation is essential to their success,” said Dave White, CEO, Opportunity Stanislaus. “We are launching PLC training in our next class starting in October and this will allow us to add coursework from the nationally-recognized NIMS system to our offerings. We are especially excited to offer Amatrol’s popular mechatronics course.”
Rep. Harder worked tirelessly to secure this funding alongside Opportunity Stanislaus. In March, he wrote a letter of support directly to the EDA asking that the agency approve Opportunity Stanislaus’ application for funding. He also included this specific EDA program in his list of Central Valley funding priorities released in April after the Trump Administration budget would have completely eliminated the program.
The investment will allow VOLT to expand its already successful programs – VOLT’s first class in 2018 had over 88 percent of graduates secure good-paying local jobs. It will also allow VOLT to purchase new equipment to allow the institute to expand into new areas of skills education.
Rep. Harder is a leader in efforts to improve education from the primary to post-secondary levels. In July, he introduced a package of bills to invest in career and trades education. The package consists of three bills, each of which addresses different needs within the career and trades education space.