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Program Category # of Grants per state Sum of EDA $
Economic Adjustment Assistance 3 $2,233,344
Planning 8 $925,000
Public Works 2 $2,236,200
Technical Assistance 1 $125,000
Grand Total 14 $5,519,544

Idaho Rural Water Association (IRWA) trains workers throughout the state to operate municipal and industrial water and wastewater systems. However, the organization lacked the capacity and tools to provide best practices in hands-on, real-world experiences for new workers entering the industry or for the recertification coursework needed for current operators to keep their licenses. Skilled operators are hired by private businesses, such as food manufacturers, as well as private and public utilities, and are critical to local Idaho economies. Skilled system operators are also important for disaster mitigation and response, which was sorely needed when floods ravaged much of Idaho in 2017. In addition, many of Idaho’s water and wastewater system operators are expected to retire in the coming years, and there are not enough skilled operators to replace them.

In FY 2018, EDA awarded $1,447,200 in Public Works funds to the IRWA to help build a workforce training center. The facility will provide real-world experience for operators to do their job effectively, as well as increase the training capacity to meet current and future demand. The center will also allow IRWA to begin an apprenticeship program, developed in cooperation with the Idaho Workforce Development Council.

Based on their track record, increased training capacity, and projected openings, IRWA expects the facility to create 50 jobs, retain 500 jobs, and leverage $450,000 in private investment. The operators that graduate will assist the growth of manufacturing, research, and other businesses. The facility will also bolster disaster mitigation and response throughout Idaho; by training operators on how to protect water and wastewater facilities during major flooding events.

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