LSCO receives grants of $650k

Published 9:23 am Saturday, January 25, 2020

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


In one ceremony Thursday, Lamar State College-Orange accepted two grants from the Texas Workforce Commission totaling more than $650,000.

The two grants are paramount to educating and training students and local employees on the latest equipment and skills necessary for the petrochemical industry.

Presented by TWC Commissioner Aaron Demerson, Lamar State College-Orange accepted a Skills Development Fund (SDF) grant for a partnership with Arlanxeo worth $467,816 and a Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant worth $184,908.

LSCO President Dr. Thomas Johnson expressed his gratitude to Commissioner Demerson for giving the college the ability to better educate students and better train business partners through the grant funding.

“This is so exciting,” Johnson said. “We are putting people to work.”

The SDF grant with Arlanxeo will provide training for more than 300 of the company’s employees. A significant portion of the training will be done by LSCO. The training grant ensures Arlanxeo is using the safest and most efficient processes to produce their primary product – rubber. Arlanxeo’s product is used in tires, seals, golf balls, and even chewing gum.

“This helps improve the quality of tires, seals on your refrigerator, car doors, makes your golf balls go further and even helps you blow better bubbles with your chewing gum,” Arlanxeo Training Director Reguis Guillory said. “It also keeps Arlanxeo safe and keeps the community safe. If an event were to happen, our people are well trained.”

Trainees will include chemical and mechanical engineers, maintenance planners and production supervisors, according to TWC.

“To say I am overjoyed is an understatement,” Johnson said. “I am a first-generation college graduate myself so I know how it has impacted my family.”

The JET grant allowed LSCO to purchase custom training equipment that is used by students in the Industrial Technology program. The equipment mirrors the same equipment that students will operate once they graduate and work in local petrochemical facilities. 

More than 170 LSCO students have already used the equipment since it’s been on campus.

Demerson said partnerships like that of LSCO and Arlanxeo are the “secret sauce” that makes communities successful. He praised LSCO, local businesses, Economic Development Corporations, and Chambers of Commerce for working together to put people to work and create a successful local economy.

“It’s not about jobs,” Texas House of Representatives for District 21 Dade Phelan said. “It is about careers.”

Phelan said he was attending an event of a school reopening and a young lady made a beeline towards him.

“She spoke to me about the 25-percent reduction in tuition,” Phelan said. “She said, ‘I have the opportunity to go back to school. I sold my car to help my parents rebuild their house. The 25-percent allows me to go back.’ Without it, she said she was done.” 

Both the SDF and JET grant were written by Thera Celestine, Director of LSCO’s Community and Workforce Education program.