January 6, 2020, Santa Rosa, CA CA — Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) and the Sonoma County Economic Development Board (EDB) are pleased to announce the award of $7.12 million in grant funding to construct the North Bay Regional Construction and Building Trades Employment Training Center on the SRJC Petaluma campus.
The grant is funded by US Economic Development Administration (EDA) disaster relief funds. The new center is projected to train hundreds of construction and trades workers annually in order to support ongoing county-wide recovery and rebuild efforts after the October 2017 wildfires.
“Affordable housing is extremely limited in Sonoma County right now and construction professionals are in high demand,” SRJC President Frank Chong said. “I am thrilled that SRJC will be able to provide high-quality training for students who want to enter the building trades at this new facility. This is another way that the college will help build a foundation for Sonoma County’s future.”
After some of the deadliest wildfires in California’s history destroyed over 5,300 homes in October 2017, a housing impact study was commissioned as a part of the Strategic Sonoma Action Plan partnership recovery efforts. The study by Beacon Economics identified the need to build 30,000 more housing units to account for local fire losses, overcrowding, and employment growth, according to Sonoma County EDB Executive Director Sheba Person-Whitley.
Person-Whitley also commented that the project was a great example of a collaborative partnership between the EDB and SRJC. The EDB also led efforts to secure a $1 million matching grant from the Tipping Point Community Foundation.
“If partners are able to mobilize around the Regional Construction and Trades Training and Employment Center to achieve this ambitious goal, Sonoma County could position itself as a model for addressing this pressing post-disaster relief need in other California communities,” added 2nd District Supervisor David Rabbitt.
SRJC will utilize the new facility to offer short-term career skill training classes leading to non-credit certificates in areas such as:
• construction and building trades
• industrial residential construction methods
• home repair and maintenance
• construction project planning and supervision
• fire prevention through landscape
In addition to the non-credit certificates, SRJC will offer an array of credit programs that take one to four semesters to complete, including:
• refrigeration technician
• solar panel technology
• construction management
An associate degree program for students in trade union apprenticeships is under development.
“The center, operating at full capacity, should be able to produce up to 500 skilled jobseekers each year, which will make a big impact on the critical shortage of trained workers in the construction industry,” said Nancy Miller, Director of Regional Adult Education Programs for SRJC and the Sonoma County Adult Education Consortium, who led the SRJC’s efforts to secure the grant funding.