Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) on Monday, Oct. 16, hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new Mobile Training Labs at GNTC’s Whitfield Murray Campus in Dalton.

“We are very excited about this opportunity,” said Dr. Heidi Popham, president of GNTC, adding that GNTC already has plans for the units. Textile Management Associates Inc. has already reserved use of the Advanced Manufacturing Training Lab at GNTC’s Gordon County Campus in Calhoun.

GNTC, through its partnership with Endless Opportunities Inc., will use the Welding Training Lab at the Whitfield Murray Campus next week to provide 80 hours of hands-on training in Metal Inert Gas (MIG), Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) and Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), said Patty Hart, director of Economic Development at GNTC. Endless Opportunities is a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program funded through the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission to provide youth in Catoosa, Gordon, Murray and Whitfield counties with the knowledge and skills for a successful career.

“The mobile labs will be used for both continuing education training and corporate training,” said Angela Berch, vice president of Economic Development at GNTC. “The labs provide an opportunity for GNTC’s Office of Economic Development to complete training where it’s needed, when it’s needed.”

The mobile labs are fully self-contained and can be set up anywhere as needed, including a manufacturing facility, a campus that does not offer the needed training or a prison, said Cody Holloway, director of Industrial Training at GNTC. Through the mobile labs, GNTC will offer various courses related to automation and industrial maintenance, such as Programmable Logic Controllers, Robotics and Welding.

“The ultimate goal is for the labs to be a benefit to both community members by providing a pathway to better paying jobs and industry partners by providing a pipeline of skilled workers,” Holloway said. 

“The mobile labs open the door for more individuals to receive high-demand skills desired by industry in GNTC’s nine-county service area,” Berch said, adding that the labs will also be used for student recruitment. 

The trailers were purchased for about $600,000 each, and they contain about $800,000 in equipment, making the total investment roughly $2 million, Holloway said.

The project was funded through grants, including funding through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Popham said.

Technical Training Aids outfitted the Advanced Manufacturing lab, and the Welding lab was outfitted by Holston Gases Inc. and Sledge Tech, Holloway said.

The labs made their first appearance earlier this month at the Skilled Trade & Career Expo in Dalton, Berch said.

The labs support GNTC’s mission to provide workforce development opportunities, non-credit continuing education and economic development throughout northwest Georgia, Berch said.

In 2020-21 GNTC borrowed one of the Technical College System of Georgia’s Mobile Welding labs and provided an opportunity for 24 Floyd County Prison offenders to obtain Welding certifications. The offenders planned to use the certifications and training for employment once they left the facility.

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 abou