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West Plains Technology Center Gets Boost From State

Drew Coffman

Gov. Jay Nixon announced Friday that the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT) will receive $300,000 of state funds. 

It’s the latest major investment into the center, located in West Plains, which earlier this year received a large grant from the Delta Regional Authority.

Through a partnership with the South Central Career Center and Missouri State University-West Plains, students this fall will begin taking advanced manufacturing and technology courses at the center.

“People are noticing that this is something that’s needed in our region. We’re a rural area. There’s no other types of training facilities like ours in this area so it was really exciting to think that they had enough confidence in us to do this,” Sheila Barton, project director, states.

According to Barton, the money will go towards renovation of the former city scales building, which is happening in phases.

“They’re in phase one right now which is the roof.  And then phase two will start the outside and inside things that need to be done,” Barton says.

Barton hopes it can receive future assistance to help with the completion of its 16,000 square foot building.

GOCAT will offer an Associate of Applied Science in Technology degree with options in either Alternative Energy or Advanced Manufacturing. The two areas will also offer certificates.

According to Barton, the program is geared towards manufacturing and maintenance technicians.

“All of our programs are what we call, stackable credentials. So they come in to school entry level. All of the courses that they’re learning are stepping stones to the next degree, the next program that they want to go into. And it all kind of falls together,” Barton adds.

According to Barton, the manufacturing environment continues to change, which calls for better technical skills.

“The technology that we will be teaching our students in these programs will help prepare them to get a better job in a very high growth industry,” Barton adds.

Barton says that the skills learned in the two-year program will allow individuals to get right to work and earn higher wages.

The center is also working with industry partners for customized training.

“Many of our industry partners who have been instrumental in helping us develop the GOCAT, all have told us that they have employees that need those additional technical skills,” Barton states.

Barton adds the center will be working with Regal, Armstrong, and DRS employees in specific areas that they have requested.

“We’re out here, we’re ready to do it and we’re excited to bring these opportunities to our employers to help them upscale their employees,” Barton adds. 

Although renovations have just begun, classes will start in the fall. GOCAT will be temporarily the Lybyer Technology Center on the MSU West Plains campus.

Barton says its building along N. Howell Ave is projected to be ready for the spring semester.

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