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Penn College Plays Role in Startup of Automotive Castings Products Division

Continuing to foster economic development through its technical training outreach, Pennsylvania College of Technology is playing a role in one of the state’s top industrial-development priorities the startup of the new Ward Manufacturing Inc. Automotive Castings Products Division in Lawrence Township, Tioga County.

Penn College is serving as the fiscal agent for $345,571 in Customized Job Training funds awarded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Ward and Penn College will continue their partnership and will be submitting an application for further funding. Training is being coordinated by Penn College’s Technology Transfer Center.

Employees at the ACP Division have already received training in programmable logic controls and statistical process controls. Delivered by Penn College faculty, the training is in addition to specialized training on machinery produced in Switzerland and Denmark, which is conducted by company representatives from those countries. Additional Penn College training at the ACP Division is likely in computer skills, communication and problem-solving skills for teams, and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing. All of the training is covered by the CJT funds.

In training assistance not funded by CJT monies, industrial electrician and maintenance mechanic apprentices at Ward Manufacturing Inc.’s Blossburg facility are participating in technical math courses coordinated by the Technology Transfer Center. Ward may look to Penn College to provide additional skilled apprenticeship training.

Of the entire training effort, Timothy Sick, project coordinator with the Technology Transfer Center, stated, “This project represents an excellent example of an effective partnership between government, education and industry. The project helps facilitate the creation of a significant number of new jobs and provides the employees with the high level of training required in an advanced manufacturing environment.”

The grand opening of Ward’s ACP Division was held in late May. The 225,000-square-foot manufacturing space represents a capital investment of $66,136,000 and is the first part of a three-phase project expected to employ about 500 individuals when complete.

Through its shareholder Hitachi Metals of America, Ltd., of Purchase, N.Y. Ward has gained access to substantial technology not presently utilized in its production processes, providing an opportunity to expand its fundamental business of metal casting into a new market with automobile components. At the ACP Division, employees are producing ductile iron automotive parts; piping components are manufactured at Ward’s Blossburg plant.

“Ward Manufacturing Inc. will be injecting over $160 million of new money into the economy of Tioga County, creating nearly 700,000 square feet of new state-of-the-art manufacturing space and 500-net new quality manufacturing jobs to our economy,” says Robert J. Blair, executive director of the Tioga County Development Corp. “This, in itself, is the greatest single corporate investment in Tioga County’s history. It goes without saying this will impact positively on our county for years to come.”

Because of its ability to deliver high-quality technical training, Penn College’s presence in the Northern Tier is increasingly viewed as a vital component in economic development initiatives, says Dr. Ted Nichols, director of Penn College’s North Campus in Wellsboro.

“States across the country consider customized job training a key element in attracting and keeping businesses,” Nichols states. “With our specialized training, Penn College plays an important role in this competitive business and industrial environment. The fact that Pennsylvania’s premier technical college has a branch in the Northern Tier is viewed very favorably. We can leverage faculty expertise and technical resources from Williamsport, as well as provide local support, training facilities and follow-up.”

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