Two Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) students have received the Rome Home Builders Association Scholarship.

Ethron “Carl” Crawford and Grant Payne each received the $1,000 scholarship, which rewards academic excellence and provides financial support for students working toward a degree, diploma or certificate in a residential construction-related program, including Air Conditioning Technology, Construction Management, Electrical Systems Technology, Horticulture and Lawn Maintenance on the Floyd, Gordon and Polk County Campuses.

Crawford studies Electrical Systems Technology while Payne studies Horticulture. Both attend classes at the Floyd County Campus in Rome. 

“This is the fifth year of our partnership with the Rome Home Builders Association (RHBA),” said Dr. Heidi Popham, GNTC president. “Thanks to their generosity and spirited support, we’ve been able to award 24 scholarships in that time. RHBA has truly made a difference in our community.”

RHBA President Ivy Lowrey is a member of the RHBA’s Scholarship Planning Committee and operates a residential construction business, Ivy Lowrey Inc.

“As an organization, our goal is to build on the foundations of generations of local builders and contractors that came before us, ensuring a strong and vibrant residential housing industry,” Lowrey said. “We do that, in part, by offering scholarships to students at Georgia Northwestern who are working to earn a certificate, diploma or degree in a housing-related trade.”  

RHBA hopes the scholarship will help to fill the shortage of skilled workers in construction trades, she explained, adding that labor force statistics from the 2021 American Community Survey highlight that challenge. 

Workers younger than 25 comprise 13.6% of the U.S. labor force, but their share in the construction industry was just 10% in 2021, she said. The share of construction workers aged 55 and older increased from about 19% in 2015 to more than 22% in 2021. 

“Our workforce is aging at the same time we struggle to bring younger workers in,” she said. “We have to take steps now to build a labor force for our future. RHBA members are engaged in trying to turn that tide and protect an industry that creates home ownership opportunities for families in and around Rome and Floyd County.”

Phil Burkhalter of Phillip Burkhalter Builders LLC represents Floyd County on GNTC’s Board of Trustees. He said he has been a member of RHBA for 34 years.

“Qualified electricians are in constant demand for all types of construction from a small remodel, a new home construction or a commercial build,” Burkhalter said, adding there is also a demand for horticulturists. “It is important to have educated horticulturists to know what types of landscaping will work with your project.” 

Burkhalter said, “We are so fortunate to have GNTC in our community to help qualified students.”   

The Rome Home Builders Association is a trade organization dedicated to creating, promoting and protecting an ongoing successful environment for affordable housing in order to benefit its members and the citizens of Georgia, according to its website. The association is committed to offering opportunities for members to improve their abilities to conduct business with integrity and encourages member involvement in assisting communities to meet the need for affordable, quality housing.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma or a certificate in aviation, business, health, industrial or public service career paths. This past year, 11,601 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. GNTC has an annual credit enrollment of 8,071 students and an additional enrollment of 3,530 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training and Georgia Quick Start. For more information about GNTC, visit us at GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.