ARC grant takes welding program to next level

Belmont County

Saint Clairsville, OH (WTRF)- The welding and manufacturing industry isn’t just growing in parts of the Appalachian region. It’s going to the next level, thanks to $1 M that the Appalachian Regional Commission split among five projects.

One is right here in Belmont County.

Out of the five projects, this one was given close to $300,000. Belmont College in Saint Clairsville is one of 3 institutions behind this program, and they received only a portion of that $300,000.

But that’s still a big deal to Belmont College.

“It’s going to bring another level to this program.”

Dirk DeCoy, program chair of Industrial Trades, Belmont College

And that’s where this ARC $86,000 grant comes in. It’s a portion of the $300,000 Belmont College got for their Eastern Ohio Appalachia Pipe Welding and Fabrication Project.

With the grant, Belmont College’s welding program is ready for what’s next.

“It says a lot for the program and what we’re doing and what we’re going to be doing with this money.”

Dirk DeCoy, program chair of Industrial Trades, Belmont College

The program already teaches basic pipe welding skills, but thanks to this grant, there’ll be more to this program.

“This (program) will be advanced, which will really raise the level of pipe welding skills.”

Dirk DeCoy, program chair of Industrial Trades, Belmont College

Program director Dirk DeCoy’s talking about getting pipes and tubes, the CNC plasma cutter, a couple spot welders, as well as some tube benders and notches.

All new equipment will go into their Welding Program.

Then, in turn, DeCoy says students will become even better pipe welders, and that’s needed now more than ever… especially when the proposed Ethane Cracker Plant comes in.

“There was about 1,000 jobs shortage expected when that cracker plant hits so we’re hoping to help soften that load to get more pipe welders out there.”

Dirk DeCoy, program chair of Industrial Trades, Belmont College

Congressman Bill Johnson, who stands by the advanced welding workforce initiative, also sees our local impact. He believes this program, with the help of the grant, won’t just create new job opportunities but will grow our economy in the future.

“The welders that will come out of that course that they’re building over at Belmont College… it’s really, really important that we give people the skills of the day for the jobs of tomorrow… So it’s very, very significant.”

Rep. Bill Johnson, (R)-Ohio

Congressman Johnson is hoping many of those jobs are with the Ethane Cracker Plant, but there’s no official announcement yet.

Meanwhile DeCoy says their advanced Welding program is expected to start in the Fall.

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