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ODC approves $8M for OC

Posted on September 12, 2017

The Odessa Development Corporation approved awarding $8 million to Odessa College on Thursday, reasoning it would help grow the economy by providing equipment and facilities improvements used to train in-demand workers.

The economic development sales tax grant, which the City Council must ratify before it becomes final, would be awarded over three years as reimbursements for work done.

“We’re going to help our employers; we’re going to help the educational system — both,” ODC President Charles Carlson said.

Much of the money would be used to renovate the auto dealership at 2425 E. Eighth St. that The Sewell Family of Companies is donating to the college once the flag-ship Ford-Lincoln dealership moves to a new location on Highway 191 later this year.

The future Sewell Auto Tech Center facility is about 60,000 square-feet, which is more than twice as large as the college’s existing auto and diesel tech building that the donated property will replace. The city-funded work would include installing an elevator, converting offices to classroom space and roof repair, among other renovations.

In addition to auto and detail techs, Odessa College administrators said the money would be used to pay for facility renovations and new equipment used by students enrolled in programs including radiologic technology, instrumentation technology, truck driving and occupational health and safety.

Students studying to be HVAC technicians, plumbers, electricians and maintenance and repair workers would also benefit, offi cials of the college said.

Odessa College administrators touted growing enrollment and degree awards in those growing professions.

“We want to be able to ensure that Odessa has the employees to keep up with that high tech career path, and we have to be able to

have the facilities and the equipment and the highly trained staff to give you the highly trained employees for the workforce that this community needs,” said Valerie Jones, vice president of instruction at Odessa College.

District 5 City Councilman Filiberto Gonzales attended the Thursday meeting and said he supported the city funding the projects.

“We’ve accomplished a lot and I would hate to make the students wait,” Gonzales said.