Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, Ill.
Grants Expand Eastern Iowa Colleges’ Truck Driving Program
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Eastern Iowa Community Colleges has received more than $875,000 in grants to expand its truck driving/commercial truck driving program.
Of these funds, $797,000 was awarded through the Iowa Workforce Development’s “CDL Infrastructure Grant.” This will allow EICC to widen access to the program and its facilities, which is backlogged up to three times its available capacity.
The college plans to use Iowa CDL Infrastructure Grant funds by establishing a new CDL training site in Muscatine, adding three more DOT-approved training ranges at the Blong Technology Center in Davenport, and purchasing four tractor-trailer combinations, equipped with modern electronic logging devices.
“Due to constraints related to equipment and the number of facilities, the demand for our CDL program is outpacing our ability to train everyone. By establishing a new training facility in Muscatine and expanding those at the Blong, we will more than double our capacity for students,” Matt Schmit, EICC’s dean of manufacturing and skilled trades, said in a news release.
With an immediate need for qualified drivers in eastern Iowa, Schmit said interest is high across the board.
“In our region, truck drivers are consistently in high demand,” he said. “We have the interest from students, demand from local employers and funds to connect more students to employment.”
According to the state, Iowa will need more than 10,000 commercial drivers each year through 2030.
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“The pathway to finding a job as a truck driver, one of our most-needed occupations, runs through getting a CDL license,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “It’s important that we do everything we can to not only make it easier for individuals to obtain these licenses, but also to support the long-term viability of the programs that made it possible to gain that experience right here in Iowa.”
In total, Iowa awarded $4.8 million in CDL Infrastructure Grants to 10 community colleges — expected to train an additional 1,305 drivers a year.
Additionally, EICC received $80,460 from the federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training grant program.
This program aims to reduce the severity and number of United States road crashes by expanding the number of CDL holders who have enhanced operator safety training.
Set by U.S. Congress, the priority is to assist entities that recruit and train current or former members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses in earning a CDL.
At EICC, this funding will establish a program focused on training service members.
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