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Program # of Grants EDA Funds
Disaster Relief 3 $2,350,000
Economic Adjustment Assistance 4 $1,850,000
Public Works 6 $6,136,000
Planning 21 $3,414,303
6 $765,048
Total 40 $14,515,351

In May 2015, Brenham, Texas faced an unprecedented spike in unemployment virtually overnight when a deadly Listeria outbreak halted production at their largest manufacturer, Blue Bell Creameries. Blue Bell confirmed layoffs of 235 full-time and 109 part-time employees in Brenham — the first layoffs in the company’s 108-year history. These losses were compounded by back-to-back layoffs at three of the top 10 manufacturers in the region, creating an economic slump that impacted several major businesses, and resulted in layoffs of 590 people. In just one summer, the town’s unemployment rate doubled.

Local leaders sought ways to mitigate some of these losses, diversifying the skill set of the area workforce by providing additional technical training for displaced workers and area citizens that are in need. In August 2015, EDA awarded a nearly $1.4 million grant to the Economic Development Foundation of Brenham to build a workforce and technical training center adjacent to the existing Blinn College Hodde Technical Education Center. This new facility will include classroom and laboratory space offering customized technical training, which has been identified as the top ranking local challenge to growth.

As established businesses upgrade in-house technologies, the new workforce training center – coupled with existing training resources – will provide vital training to the local workforce. As a result, a highly-skilled and trained workforce will enable existing industries to upgrade technology and processes, which could have long-term potential to create jobs for the region. In addition, the presence of a highly-trained workforce will help to attract new businesses to the region, which could mean more jobs for the people of Brenham.

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