Georgia, Wyoming Schools to Train More Truck Drivers

New Facility, CDL Grant Program Hope to Make Dent in Driver Shortage
Groundbreaking at Columbus Technical College for a CDL training facility
Groundbreaking at Columbus Technical College for a CDL training facility that hopes to attract former military personnel. (Columbus Technical College via Facebook)

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Seeking to get more truck drivers on the road, colleges in Georgia and Wyoming are expanding their commercial driver license programs.

Columbus Technical College in Georgia recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for a CDL facility near Fort Moore (formerly Fort Benning), where transitioning military personnel leaving active service and others can be trained as truck drivers.

“Columbus Tech is very excited to announce this new project in the city,” said Martha Ann Todd, college president. “We believe this addition will serve as a workforce entry point for both exiting military, veterans and residents of the Chattahoochee Valley as they receive the training and resources needed to fulfill workforce gaps in current critical fields.”

The CDL range project is being paid for with money from Gov. Brian Kemp’s Emergency Education Relief Fund Grant award and support from the Technical College System of Georgia and the Jack Pezold family.

“This groundbreaking represents the Columbus community’s commitment to providing access to good-paying jobs for soldiers returning to civilian life while also encouraging them to remain in the Valley area,” said Jack Pezold, a prominent longtime local businessman.

The CDL site also will have a planned companion facility called the future Veterans Education Career Resource Transition Workforce Development Center.

CTC President Martha Ann Todd

Todd speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony. (Columbus Technical College via Facebook)

Scheduled to open this fall, the CDL training facility will accommodate up to 350 drivers annually.

CTC was awarded $1.77 million in January 2022 to spend on a driving pad, mobile classroom, trailers and simulators from Kemp’s $8.32 million allocations to six technical colleges to fund an “Education-to-Workforce Pipeline for Commercial Drivers.”

The school’s new CDL facility aims to get more truck drivers on the road to offset the national driver shortage and improve supply chain challenges.

The ceremony to start construction was attended by a large group of civic and government officials. These included city councilor Gary Allen, Mayor Skip Henderson, state Rep. Vance Smith, state Sen. Ed Harbison, Chief of Staff Kenneth Cutts of the U.S. House of Representatives, Brenda Williams (staffer for U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock), Pezold and retired Major Gen. Patrick Donahoe.

Representing CTC were Ray Perren, deputy commissioner for the state’s technical college system; Greg Paul of the CTC Foundation; Todd; and Crystal Shahid, CTC board chair.

Shahid said, “These innovative facilities will be a game-changer for industry and employment opportunities in the area.”

Meanwhile in Wyoming, Laramie County Community College held an open house May 20 to encourage people to start careers driving trucks. In February, the college was awarded $556,920 in a Pre-Hire Economic Development Grant (through the state Department of Workforce Services) to train people wanting to work as truck drivers in Wyoming.

The grant will cover all costs of the CDL certification program for more than 100 students.

“The starting pay is one of the best for blue-collar jobs,” Michael Geissler, college CDL program director, said while promoting the open house. “This state and nation rely heavily on its trucking industry to keep our economy moving, so the job stability and competitive pay and benefits are outstanding.”

Applicants to the LCCC program, available at its Cheyenne and Laramie campuses, must have a Wyoming driver license and work in Wyoming upon completing the CDL program.

Job placement assistance is available through LCCC for students who complete the CDL program.

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