Money may be just what city needs

Local News

DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Once ranked one of the state’s most rapidly shrinking cities, there may be a dawn on the horizon for Decatur.

The state is investing more than $1.5 million toward training its workforce and Richland Community College will oversee the funds. It’s big news for the community.

RCC leaders say they have big plans for the money. They’re creating new accelerated programs and classrooms to give hundreds of students a chance to study at a fraction of the current cost.

A top priority will be certifying truck drivers. The director of RCC’s Workforce Development Center says the city has up to 200 vacant trucker positions. Another big focus will be manufacturing. After all, it is their top industry.

The idea is to become a one-stop shop for job recruiters. They estimate it will help roughly 225 people find work and put the city back on the map. The $1.5 million was carved out of last year’s budget.

Democrats representing the area, Senator Andy Manar and Representative Sue Scherer pushed for the grant. It’s a one-time grant. Manar says he hopes it will be turned into an annual contribution to the community.

Decatur’s unemployment numbers are falling while job creation is up. Area leaders pushed strongly for the grant to fix the growing worker supply-and-demand gap.

Leaders say scholarships won’t be included, but they’ll be working with students to offset costs. RCC is hosting a meeting Tuesday to determine specific plans for the money.

As of now, two truck driver courses have been added to the fall schedule. Those classes will be accelerated, Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm, for one month.

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