Study to lay groundwork for aerospace programs

U.S. and World

BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Another step is taken in bringing aerospace companies to Raleigh County, West Virginia. A 10-month study was announced to analyze aerospace education and workforce in southern West Virginia. It will review the skilled training needs for aerospace companies being recruited to locate at Raleigh County Memorial Airport.

The goal is to offer a roadmap to address two and four-year degree programs. The New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRDA) is coordinating the study and collaborating with two local institutions, New River Community and Technical College and West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech).

“The development of aerospace manufacturing and innovation opportunities is one of the most compelling ways to diversify and grow the economy in southern West Virginia,” said Belcher. “Coming off the recent announcement of the $8.3 million site development at the airport, we want our workforce to be ready for the new companies locating at our Airport Industrial Park.”

The study is funded by a $50,000 Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant and a matching award from American Electric Power (AEP).

In 2020 Raleigh County Memorial Airport received an AEROReadyTM designation. That study identified the ease of transferring the skills of displaced coal industry workers to the aerospace industry. WVU Tech has agreed to partner its existing two-year Aviation Engineering program with New River Community and Technical College to develop a 2+2 aerospace program of study.

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