Support sought for new Fayette County career center
By Judy Kroeger, DAILY COURIER
Saturday, December 19,
Fay-Penn Economic Development Council urges all members and residents of Fayette County to support construction
of a new career and technical center.
Ron Sheba, in charge of educational matters for Fay-Penn, said at Friday's
quarterly meeting that not enough individuals were available for high priority occupations. Students from Uniontown, Laurel
Highlands, Brownsville and Albert Gallatin school districts attend the Fayette County Vo-Tech school.
on the investment is outstanding," Sheba said, but the area needs a new facility to attract the best students and increase
the pool of skilled workers. "Businesses are unable to put on a second shift. There is no skill level."
said a new facility, built as a green building, would provide an opportunity to teach high school students daily. "A new building
would reflect the needs of the future. We need to build this new building with a lot of flexibility for the future."
President and CEO Michael Krajovic said Fayette County's unemployment rate is 10.6 percent, compared with a statewide rate
of 8.6 percent. Fay-Penn has created 2,000 employment opportunities that remain unfilled, and an enhanced facility would help
"What's the point when employers can't find skilled people?" Krajovic asked.
current vo-tech facility is 50 years old and a replacement would cost about $23 million, as opposed to $18 million for a renovation
to bring the building to current code and equipment standards.
"We need to attract a lot more talented students,"
"It's a time for action," Krajovic said. "It needs to be a signature building. The cost will be recovered
many, many times over. That location has a stigma," he said of the Georges Township facility, which he said does not attract
the "best and brightest" students. He suggested the current facility — once replaced with a new one near Penn State
Fayette, The Eberly Campus — could be used as a business incubator for graduates.
The four school districts
have not taken action on a new facility, but Ed Jeffreys, executive director of the vo-tech, said they were close to a decision
and had approved $1.6 million in new equipment.
"I'm still not getting the students. There's a general idea and
philosophy that people who go there never get a good job," Jeffreys said. "Actually, students graduate and are making $40,000
a year, and some are attending Penn State and having all their tuition paid by their employers."
"This is the
economic development issue," Krajovic said