SPC-Plainview receives development grant

Author: Doug McDonough/Plainview Herald

Plainview/Hale County Economic Development Executive Director Mike Fox (left) presents South Plains College President Dr. Kelvin Sharp, Workforce Development Coordinator-Plainview Paul Henderson, and Plainview Campus director Gracie Quinonez with a mock check representing a $22,000 Economic Development Incentive Grant. The funds are to purchase 12 Allen Bradley programmable logic controllers to train students at the local campus. Henderson explains, “The units have thousands of industrial applications, including wind energy and are used by most large corporations.”

Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 9:30 pm | Updated: 8:31 am, Thu Jul 2, 2015.

The 12 Allen Bradley programmable logic controllers that South Plains College-Plainview will purchase with a $22,000 Economic Development Incentive Grant, received Friday, April 24, 2015, from the Plainview-Hale County Industrial Foundation, will help its students learn skills for careers not only in wind energy, but across a wide industrial spectrum.

Speaking Friday at the PHCEDC’s quarterly meeting, Paul Henderson, SPC-Plainview’s workforce development coordinator, said the controllers are not used just to keep wind turbine blades from turning too fast.

“PLCs are the brains behind almost everything, from traffic signals to conveyers at the Walmart Distribution Center. They even are used in signal heads for trains.”

Henderson said the local campus expects to have nearly 400 students this fall, with summer and fall registration already under way.

“This grant will help our students receive the skill-set that will help them enter the workforce with the knowledge they need without additional training,” he said.

He explained that the PLCs are used to adjust the pitch of wind turbine blades to keep them from turning too fast during high winds. “Otherwise, they would get to spinning so fast they would tear themselves up.” PLCs are used in the oil and gas industry as well as numerous industrial applications.

“Our students will be able to actually learning programming on what is considered state-of-the-art equipment and will be able to go straight out of this program to jobs paying $25 per hour. They literally have job offers coming out of our program,” Henderson told EDC members. “These will be huge assets for us going down the road.”

He added that SPC-Plainview will be launching a dual-credit program this fall in auto technology with Plainview ISD at the Norman Goen Auto Technology Center at Fifth and Date. “The reason we have an Enterprise car rental office here is because Plainview is recognized as an auto repair hub for the region, and auto techs are a vital part of our local economy because Plainview also serves as an automobile repair center for a wide area.”

SPC President Dr. Kevin Sharp thanked the organization for the grant, and praised the strong partnership the school shares with the community. “Plainview is a very special place for me personally, since I was born here. We thank you for your investment, because without your help we would not have been able to open our new technology center just a few months ago.”

Plainview City Manager Jeffrey Snyder, reporting on the city, noted that hotel-motel tax receipts are up about 22 percent, due in part to Plainview becoming a hub for wind energy development in the region. He also noted that sales tax receipts are up, construction of the Kermit Drive backage road should wrap up in June, waste water treatment plant repairs continue, and work on the old Jimmy Dean Meat Company plant are almost complete and is already being shown to industrial prospects.

Mike McNutt from Covenant Health Plainview reported that Phase 1 of the hospital’s reconstruction and expansion project is in the document review stage and about to begin. That will involve expansion of the hospital’s surgical facilities along with the reconfiguration of the hospital’s central plant.

“Mid- to late summer will bring on the big construction,” he noted, although Dr. Benjamin Farr will be moving his orthopedic clinic to Suite 1 in the north end of the John C. Anderson Building by June 1, and will be welcoming a new associate by mid-July.

Hale County Judge Bill Coleman praised a new cooperative attitude that has developed between city and county officials. “It’s a very exciting time to be in Plainview, Texas,” he said.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Morris reported that her organization has conducted six ribbon cuttings recently, including four for new businesses, and additional ceremonies are set for the future.

Dr. Paul Armes, Wayland Baptist University president, said construction on the Jimmy Dean Museum will begin in six to eight weeks, with the school planning about $12 million in infrastructure improvements over the next few years.

While enrollment is recovering following a recent dip, the board of trustees recently approved a $65 million budget while reflects a $2 million reduction from the year before. Armes told the group that he plans to retire in June 2016, and the school will soon be launching a nationwide search for his successor.

Don Thurman, representing the South Plains Workforce office in Plainview, noted that the unemployment rate now stands at 6.8 percent, compared to 7.0 percent at this time in 2011, 7.3 percent in 2012 and 13.1 percent in 2013. “Our workforce is stabilizing after decreasing the past couple of years, and is beginning to increase.”

Sharon Wright, representing PISD, noted that school enrollment is up 66 from this time last year, and preliminary results from STAAR testing are encouraging with scores for reading up 6 percent for fifth graders, but down 2 percent for eighth graders. Statewide, reading scores for eighth graders are down 5 percent.