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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests Nearly $1.4 Million to Strengthen Workforce and Job Creation in Brenham, Texas

WASHINGTON – U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams was in Texas today to announce that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a nearly $1.4 million grant to the Economic Development Foundation of Brenham in Washington County, Texas, home of “Blue Bell” ice cream, to build a workforce and technical training center. According to the grantee, this project will attract new business to the area and enable existing industries to upgrade technology and processes, which could have long-term potential to create jobs for the region.

“Ensuring that workers have the necessary skills and training is a major priority for the Obama Administration, the Department of Commerce, and EDA,” said Assistant Secretary Williams. “As part of the Department of Commerce’s ‘Skills for Business’ initiative, this EDA investment announced today will provide vital training for displaced workers throughout the region, preparing them with the skills employers need for 21st century jobs. EDA is proud to support the Brenham community’s proactive steps toward diversification in light of recent changes to their economy.”

“The expansion of workforce training facilities in Brenham is a real need and will have a quantifiable impact on our community. As technologies are upgraded within our local industries, the demand is increasing for skilled workers to fill key positions,” said William Holle, chairman of the board of the Economic Development Foundation of Brenham. “We are partnering with EDA, the City of Brenham, Blinn College and Washington County to make this proposed project a reality.”

According to the grantee, recent issues at Blue Bell Creameries and downturns in the oil and gas industries have resulted in a large spike in unemployment for the region. As a result, the local leaders are seeking additional technical training for displaced workers and ways to mitigate some of these losses by diversifying the skill sets of the area’s workforce. EDA’s investment will fund the construction of a 12,750 square foot facility with classroom and laboratory space offering customized technical training, which was previously identified in the region as the top ranking local challenge to growth. As established businesses upgrade in-house technologies, the existing A.W. Hodde, Jr., Technical Education Center and the new EDA-supported workforce training center will provide vital training to the local workforce in new skills.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The Economic Development Administration marks 50 years of public service, leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.