Business View Civil and Municipal | March 2021

14 CIVIL AND MUNICIPAL MARCH 2021 In 2020, both New River Gorge Regional Development Authority and Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Partnership, along with their respective airports – Raleigh County Memorial Airport and Lewisburg Airport – received an AEROReady™ designation for a combined 11-county area. Belcher said the AEROReady study identified the ease of transferability of skills possessed by displaced coal industry workers into the aerospace industry. New River Community and Technical College President Bonny Copenhaver has been involved in workforce conversations since the inception of the project. “Recognizing and targeting our already skilled workforce allows the partners involved to have a jump start on training and recruitment to a newly developed aerospace training program,” said Copenhaver. “With campuses strategically located in Princeton, Beaver, and Lewisburg, and serving a combined 9-county area, we are committed to develop a new Aviation Mechanic Training school to help train a workforce that could have guaranteed employment at neighboring aerospace companies.” Also located within the footprint of the 11-county project area, WVU Tech has agreed to partner its existing two-year Aviation Engineering program with New River Community and Technical College to develop a 2+2 aerospace program of study. WVU Tech Campus President Carolyn Long said students agreeing to and completing all four years of training and coursework will graduate with the skillsets and training need to excel in Aviation Mechanics and Maintenance positions. She added that the average entry level wage after earning this degree is $60,000 to $80,000 annually. Belcher commended WVU Tech and NRCTC for their collaboration on advanced workforce development and training. She said Pavlik and Associates, of Fort Worth, Tex., can fill the gaps and work with the Federal Aviation Administration and other technical and regulatory bodies to conduct the workforce assessment and recommendations. About New River Gorge Regional Development Authority: The New River Gorge Regional Development Authority’s (NRGRDA) mission is to initiate, facilitate and support the economic and community development efforts within the counties of Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, and Summers located in this region of southern West Virginia. NRGRDA stimulates the regional economy through business expansion and retention efforts, including an extensive portfolio of financial services; the management of sites for new companies locating to our region; and serving as a point of access for local service providers which offer a variety of technical assistance for business owners. We want our workforce to be ready for the new companies locating at our Airport Industrial Park