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Don't have workers for new water plant? No problem, LaBelle will grow its own!

A new state grant could pay for a training facility to teach local students the trade skills they need to work at the plant.
Posted at 8:27 PM, Mar 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-25 20:29:45-04

LABELLE, Fla. — In a move to support the fast growth of Labelle, the city plans to upgrade its water treatment plant, but they need more workers for the project. In a meeting earlier this month, the City of LaBelle talked about applying for a state grant so they can build a new facility at the plant to train new workers.

The grant in question, the Workforce Development Capitalization Incentive Program, is designed to give money to school districts for the expansion of technical training programs, aiming to address the shortage of trades workers in Florida. With the Hendry County School District already having a successful Career and Technical Education (C.T.E.) program, LaBelle has turned to them for assistance in establishing the training program at the new plant facility.

"Training is in our wheelhouse. So, we're going to use our Department of Education curriculum that's already in place, and we will use the certification programs that we already have in place," said Michael Swindle, the Superintendent of the Hendry County School District.

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Swindle emphasizes that the program will offer hands-on experience directly relevant to the jobs trainees are preparing for. "It's going to be a very usable type of training that will give students the opportunity with a skilled trade to earn a high skill, high wage job," he added.

Swindle also highlighted the benefits of hiring locally, suggesting that training students from the community for these careers increases the likelihood of them staying in it because they likely already have housing and family in the area.

The state of Florida has allocated $100 million towards the grant. The City of LaBelle is collaborating with Woodard & Curran, a company with a track record of successfully pursuing such grants, to finalize their application process.