Howard Community College (HCC) in Columbia, Md., has launched an $11 million capital campaign in support of a new campus-based workforce development and skilled trades center.
The trades center will be the first of its kind in the county and will directly address a growing statewide shortage of skilled workers in trades and technical fields, said college president Daria J. Willis.
"One of my priorities as president is to establish the trades center as a direct anti-poverty and racial equity resource for Howard County," said Dr. Willis. "Neighbors and communities in the county have been long underserved by the absence of this critical wealth-building and career-development hub. Today was a bold step on behalf of their bright futures."
Officials announced the campaign during a breakfast meeting hosting more than 70 members of county and state legislature, business owners, college donors, and corporate engagement leaders from several of the region's largest employers. Dr. Willis presented the case for the 50,000-square-foot facility and targeted 2026 as an intended completion date. The facility will offer practical training in automotive, manufacturing, mechatronics, green technology, cybersecurity, and construction trades.
"Maryland is an emerging national leader in workforce innovation," said Minah Woo, HCC Vice President of Workforce, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships. "The state and its corporations will need a workforce that is agile to changing technology and environmental laws. Howard Community College seeks to be the leading industry partner in helping corporations set expectations for hiring, retaining, and developing entry level to managerial talent in these areas."
Local business leaders Zack Shariff, CEO of the Allen+Shariff Corporation, and Ben Nichols, president of Harkins Builders, Inc., were named as co-chairmen of the campaign council. They jointly pledged $50,000 to support the campaign and encouraged guests to serve as benefactors and advocates of the center.