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TEEX and the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC) have received a $1.1 million grant to provide training on AS9100 quality standards and lean manufacturing techniques to 19 Texas companies that supply the aerospace industry.

“This grant represents a true collaboration with federal, state and private funding,” said Carla Collins, Training Director with TEEX’s Technology & Economic Development Division. The funding is provided by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and the 19 Texas aerospace companies that are part of the Aerospace Training Consortium.

“TEEX is managing the grant, which is the largest in scope of any single TWC grant to date,” Collins said. The entire project will include 1,926 participants, 26,855 hours of training, 15 cities, 11 counties, 10 workforce boards and two economic development entities, she added.

The OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), such as Boeing, Vought and Lockheed Martin, are requiring their suppliers to be quality certified in AS9100 by October 2009. During the past year, TMAC staff, under the direction of TEEX, have visited each company targeted for this program and assessed its needs and any gaps in employee skill levels necessary to support the aerospace industry. The training program will provide participants with the skills and knowledge needed to become AS9100 certified.

“Texas is fortunate to have attracted the aerospace industry sector and its associated jobs,” Collins said. “Because of transportation and logistics costs, the OEMs benefits from using Texas vendors that can support their materials and equipment needs. But the global nature of the aerospace industry means Texas workers must continually upgrade their skills and knowledge to remain competitive.

“TEEX and TMAC were selected to train these aerospace suppliers because we can conduct skills development training statewide,” Collins said. “The agency’s renewed relationship with TWC is due to the outreach efforts of Gary Sera, Jim Thyne and Lesa Hill with the TWC staff through tours and meetings. They have effectively communicated with TWC that TEEX’s mission of training Texas workers is our No. 1 priority.”

TMAC is the exclusive vendor for this project, and five of the seven TMAC regions are participating, she added. TEEX, which administers the TMAC program and operates the TMAC East Central Region, will be working directly with two Aerospace Training Consortium members, TNK Machine in Paris and Merritt Tool in Kilgore.

An additional 36 Texas companies are seeking to participate in a “Phase II” of this project, Collins said.

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Kathy Fraser

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