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Advanced Manufacturing

Tech School machines in line for $250,000 from state

TURNERS FALLS — Pending Gov. Deval Patrick’s approval, $250,000 is headed to Franklin County to buy 13 modern metal-working machines for Franklin County Technical School.

Local manufacturing companies have already raised $215,000 for the project, and could see that number hit as high as $290,000 this summer, said Steven Capshaw, president of the Greenfield-based Valley Steel Stamp. The Tech School also received a $100,000 state grant in May.

“We’re down to the finish line and there’s a lot of moving parts but it seems to be coming together,” said Capshaw. The local industry desperately needs a new wave of trained employees, according to Capshaw, who said that his company turns away 90 percent of the work it is being offered because of an inadequately skilled labor force.

The money will pay for 13 new machines — a collection of lathes, mills and grinders — that are controlled by computer programming and will replace the Tech School’s 40-year-old manual machines. The equipment will train both high school students as well as local unemployed and underemployed workers.

The school’s machine shop has been cleared out and expanded, said Capshaw. The school will install the new equipment this summer and is working on bringing their manufacturing curriculum up to industry standards.

Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, one of the Franklin County delegates who pushed for the budget allocation after hearing from Capshaw, said that the allocation represents a compromise between House and Senate versions.

He said the conference committee decided to go with the Senate funding level ($250,000 as opposed to the House’s $200,000) and the House’s funding source (a state manufacturing fund, instead of future revenue from casinos).

Local manufacturers’ private donations and promise of future jobs helped sell the program to the Legislature, said Kulik.

“There are good-paying high-skilled jobs available right now to Franklin County residents at these existing companies, if only they can receive the skills and training that will be supported by this program,” he said.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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