In a deal as complicated, as innovative and as expensive as the BlueOval SK Battery Park coming to Hardin County, it’s hard to evaluate just how important the individual players are.
But you can bet Juston Pate and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College rank near the top.
For more than six decades, ECTC and its predecessors have shaped individual opportunity and collective contributed to the growth and development of Hardin and surrounding counties. It has been seemingly been blessed at every turn with innovative leadership working alongside skilled faculty and staff. Yet Pate has set a new pace in community partnership and innovation.
Work has began for the on-site BlueOval SK and ECTC co-branded training facility off Gilead Church Road in Glendale. It’s within sight from the massive BlueOval SK construction which will house a pair of 4-million square-foot plants which promise to employ 5,000.
ECTC’s work is a key component of the entire project and certainly the level of cooperation exhibited by Pate and the college was vital to securing this opportunity for all.
The electric vehicle push is driving this massive infusion of employment and income locally from the joint venture of Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovations. It will produce batteries to power Ford’s and Lincoln’s next generation of electric vehicles.
The 24,000-square-foot building will serve as ECTC’s third satellite campus. In itself, it is a big deal. It is funded by a $25 million in support from the General Assembly and set for completion by April 2024.
Pate said the college is focusing on curriculum in place to support these jobs and the employees, such as mechatronics, industrial electricity and robotics automation plus some non-credit training needs including battery safety and production training and even soft skills addressing cultural components.
“I see that as our role, to prepare the pipeline for folks from many different walks of life to come in and get what training they need if they wish to enter that field,” Pate said. “That’s the biggest challenge for us. It could be a student fresh out of high school, it could be somebody with 20 years of manufacturing experience and all points in between. So we really have to be structured to whatever point they’re at in that training pipeline to get them the rest of what they need to get that job.”
Partnerships fostered by Pate and the college are key to this project and overall community development. The area is fortunate to have the right people in place with the appropriate resources and state support to deal with this massive mission.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.
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