Georgetown, DE – Delaware Technical Community College has received a $1.97 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), which will support the construction of a 13,500 square foot Automotive Center of Excellence (ACOE) on the College’s campus in Georgetown. This facility, along with the College’s new training center in Middletown, will house the first diesel mechanic training program in the region.
The ACOE will double the number of automotive technicians trained at Delaware Tech in Georgetown each year from 20 to 40 and will allow the College to train up to 15 diesel mechanics per year.
“One of the most important things we need to do in order to continue to grow our economy is to make sure we are providing hard-working Delawareans the training they need to fill the jobs of tomorrow. Years ago, I heard from auto dealers about the need for highly-skilled technicians, but that a serious investment in training was badly needed in order to develop the workforce. Since then, I’ve been fighting for this critical funding, and I am thrilled that we have finally secured what will be a direct investment in the First State’s future,” said Senator Carper. “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 76,000 mechanics will be needed every year to fill available positions. We have an obligation to seize on this clear opportunity and make sure that technicians are trained and certified to adapt and fill these good-paying jobs. This nearly $2 million grant to build a brand new, state-of-the-art automotive training center at DelTech will create jobs in our state, strengthen our economy, and invest in the future of Delaware workers, and I’m so proud of the whole team that worked to make this a reality.”
Multiple industries in the region rely on automotive technicians and diesel mechanics including agriculture, fisheries, car dealerships and other automotive service providers, and construction. A Burning Glass search in April 2018 revealed that over the last 12 months there were 180 job postings for automotive technicians and 126 job postings for diesel mechanics in the Delmarva region. Employers report high turnover due to intense competition for skilled workers, difficulty retaining workers recruited from out of state, and high costs associated with sending unskilled workers to other states for training.
According to Dr. Mark Brainard, president of Delaware Tech, “Our mission is to respond to workforce needs in this state. There is a dire need for diesel mechanics, and this training facility will help us fill those jobs with Delawareans. I want to thank Senator Carper for his diligent and tireless work to help us secure this grant, and I also want to thank the generous local donors who stepped up to support this initiative.”
The total cost to build the ACOE is $3 million, and the grant covers 65% of the construction. The following organizations and individuals have pledged donations that enabled the College to secure the 35% match required by the EDA:
- The State of Delaware
- Sussex County Council
- Floyd A. Megee Motor Company
- I.G. Burton & Company
- Preston Auto Group
- USDA – Rural Development
- Winner Automotive Group
- Carman Auto Group
- First State Chevrolet
- Willis Ford
- Chevrolet of Dover
- Matt Slap Subaru
- The Volvo Group
- AutoTeam Delaware
- Bumpers and Company
- Matt Kehoe
- Meineke of Lewes
- Nancy Jo and William Pepper
- Delaware Automobile and Truck Dealers’ Association
Labor market data indicate more than 3,000 automotive technicians and more than 800 diesel mechanics are employed across Delmarva with average annual earnings of $39,874 and $44,595, respectively. Over the next ten years, the region is projected to have 3,278 openings for automotive technicians due to retirements, job turnover and a 7% growth rate. Nine hundred forty-eight (948) job openings are expected for diesel mechanics in the same period due to retirements, job turnover and a 17% growth rate.
“Sussex County is proud to be a partner on this journey to make the Automotive Center of Excellence a reality for Delaware Tech and for those looking for a rewarding career in the automotive industry,” said Sussex County Economic Development Director William Pfaff. “Today’s automotive industry is so technologically advanced, and miles beyond what many of us remember when it came to the maintenance needs of the cars and trucks of our parents and grandparents. This program will help to ensure Sussex County has the most qualified, well-trained workforce possible in the automotive field of today and beyond.”
PHOTO COVER 1: (L to R) U.S. Senator Tom Carper, Vice President and Campus Director for Delaware Tech’s Owens Campus Bobbi Barends, Delaware Tech President Mark Brainard, and EDA Regional Director Linda Cruz-Carnall
PHOTO CAPT”ION 2: Terry Megee, owner of Floyd A. Megee Motor Company in Georgetown, addresses the crowd at the EDA Grant Announcement. Terry and Vanessa Megee were leaders in the effort to raise matching funds needed for the grant.