A tremendous economical opportunity focused on education and workforce training has reached the area with the arrival of Holmes Community College and the Yazoo County Economic Development and Education Center.
A tour and unveiling of the highly-anticipated center, located on Fifteenth Street, was held Wednesday with a number of local community leaders and Holmes Community College staff.
Although there are a few more weeks of remodeling the former Yazoo Valley Electric building, the facility is scheduled to be opened by August.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our county,” said Whitney Hurt, local economic development director. “When we can educate our citizens, we will grow as a community.”
The facility will house eight academic courses through HCC, a workforce development program and a career technical program. There will also be offices for the Yazoo County Economic District, including the Yazoo County Chamber of Commerce and the Port Commission.
The idea of the facility began as a proposal from Becky Fisher, superintendent of the Yazoo County School District. Her original concept focused on a HCC program geared towards the high school’s vocational program.
“But it expanded into something for the entire community,” Hurt said. “Superintendent Fisher was determined to get us something here beyond high school that we can offer to the citizens.”
Dr. Jim Haffey, the president of HCC, was eager to return to Yazoo City with such good news.
“When I was about six years old, my Dad loved to read books,” Haffey said. “I always remember Good Old Boy. We would beg for him to read us extra chapters. Ever since then, I have had a (love) for this area.”
Haffey said HCC was considering several communities within its nine-county district to establish another location for its services.
“Yazoo County has the most potential growth for HCC,” he said. “We are not here by accident.”
With the support of HCC trustees, Fisher and Bob Bailey, Haffey said Yazoo was the perfect fit for the community college.
“And the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors rank at the top,” Haffey added. “Everything we have needed, they stepped up for us.”
Haffey said the opportunities for education, career training and workforce development will be endless for the local facility.
“The sky is the limit,” he said. “There is no reason why we would put the brakes on this thing growing.”
Community colleges are not only vital to the local economy, but they also provide an advantage for area students, especially those who will later transfer to four-year universities. The local center will also allow dual credits for high school seniors.
And the career and workforce training will also be crucial to the local economy and job base. Local industries have agreed to work with the development program.
“We have people working with area companies to set up a training contract right now,” Haffey said. “We also have three 18-wheeler and trailers that will be used for a future CDL program here in Yazoo.”
Daniel Haralson, the local workforce development director, said he saw a need for workforce training and academic courses when he was the director of the former WIN Job Center.
“We had so many people who wanted to go back to school, but they couldn’t afford to travel,” he said. “This will help tremendously with that issue now.”
Haffey said the HCC academic courses will be available this fall. Those courses include Nutrition, Intro to Criminal Justice, Beginning English and Reading, Intermediate English and Reading, English Composition I, Beginning Algebra, Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra.
The career technical and workforce development programs will also soon be available.
“Yazoo County has so much potential,” Hurt said. “It is a gem in the state of Mississippi. But our biggest problem was workforce training. With that, you have to provide education beyond K-12.”
Cobie Collins, supervisors board president, said the county board has been looking forward to this idea becoming a reality.
“Holmes Community College has always been a part of this community, and we appreciate them,” he said.