The New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP) and County College of Morris (CCM) have received a $5 million United States Department of Defense (DOD) grant to educate and train veterans and their families for careers in manufacturing at no cost. The grant was awarded to NJMEP by the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC), resulting in the creation of the New Jersey Defense Manufacturing Community Consortium (NJDMCC).
“I can’t think of a more important group to serve than our veterans,” said Dr. Anthony J. Iacono, president of CCM. “This is a small token of appreciation, by comparison, for what veterans have done for this nation and the communities we enjoy living in. This is a large powerful grant that will change lives.”
The NJDMCC/CCM partnership has a two-fold mission of supporting veterans on their path to civilian employment and assisting the DOD supply chain by identifying companies and technologies that will allow Picatinny Arsenal to strengthen innovation.
John W. Kennedy, Ph.D., NJMEP CEO who will retire at the end of this month, said the initiative will help some 1,200 participants, “giving them a better shot” at high-paying careers in manufacturing.
Emerson Crooks, a Vietnam War combat veteran who is now chair of the Veterans Advocacy Council at Lyons VA Medical Center, commented, “I always hear people say, ‘Thank you for your service,’ but this [initiative] is the real thanks that keeps giving. This is a cause that is needed. We have hundreds of veterans who are unemployed, who live on the [hospital] campus. If you talk to most of them, you will find that when they come back from a combat situation, life has changed for them. There is re-adjustment period that requires support from the community. I can see the difference today in how communities support veterans, and I really appreciate it.”
State Senator Michael L. Testa, who is also co-chair of the Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, said he would like to see the NJDMCC in South Jersey. “I’d like to take this back with me to Cumberland County, and I would like to see Rowan College of South Jersey replicate this,” he said, adding: “Without training, manufacturing businesses will not thrive in New Jersey, and the manufacturing base will shrink. However, we are going to do everything we can to make sure that it grows.”
The training opportunities offered by NJMEP and CCM will focus on foundational manufacturing skills such as CNC, and welding, as well as certifications in safety and production processes. The program is available for five years.
“I am thrilled to see this grant funding coming to New Jersey that will create job training positions for more than 1,200 veterans and family members,” said Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill. “Thank you to NJMEP and the many organizations involved, including NJ Pathways, the NJ Veterans Chamber of Commerce, and the County College of Morris, for your ongoing partnership in advocating for the manufacturing sector here in the Garden State.”
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