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Training school to open in Sharon



Published: Sun, December 23, 2007 @ 2:00 a.m.

The building will have $2 million to $3 million worth of equipment.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. — A new school set to train students on state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment is just about ready to open its doors.

The building to house Precision Manufacturing Institute at 700 Dock St. in the Broadway North Industrial Park is basically completed and the school is now awaiting an inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Education before it can open its doors.

Jerry Knight, executive director of PMI, said the first classes for the public should be offered within six to eight weeks.

“The construction has exceeded our expectations. They did a fabulous job,” Knight said.

PMI, based in Meadville, Pa., will rent the new building from the Shenango Valley Foundation, a nonprofit agency in the Shenango Valley that worked to bring the school here in an effort to help economic development.

Larry Haynes, the foundation’s executive director, said his agency often hears from residents that there are no good-paying jobs in the community. They also hear from employers who tell them they can’t find qualified workers.

“We think PMI is the bridge,” Haynes said. “These jobs [PMI is training for] are paying a livable wage.”

Haynes said the foundation’s offer to construct and lease the building to PMI was among the reasons the school located in the Shenango Valley.

Haynes said they hope to sell the building to PMI within a year.

The foundation sees it as a regional asset that could stimulate the economy.

“Part of PMI’s mission is to enhance research and development of new products. They can help a company that has a great idea turn it into a new product,” he said.

Knight said they are installing $2 million to $3 million worth of state-of-the-art equipment in the building.

He said they intend to offer a broad range of classes from the basics of Microsoft to welding and robotics.

They expect to have 150 to 300 students a year. Some programs last as little as six weeks and others as long as nine months.

The school boasts a 98 percent placement rate for its graduates.

It appears people in the region are eager for the school to open its doors.

Knight said he was visiting the building earlier this week, and an employer stopped in and asked if they are open for classes.

“That’s never happened to me before,” he said.

Community residents are also anticipating its opening.

Olive McKeithan, mayor-elect of Farrell, visited the building a few weeks ago at the invitation of the Shenango Valley Foundation and was impressed.

“It’s absolutely beautiful. What they have is going to be an asset to our community,” she said.

The building is located within walking distance of a portion of Farrell, which has a high unemployment rate.

That location was chosen specifically for that reason, according to Haynes.

He added that the foundation pursued PMI because of its track record of offering financial aid to students who want to learn.

“We don’t turn away anybody who wants to learn,” Knight said last summer when the new location was announced.

cioffi@vindy.com


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