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Pearl River receives $2 million grant for Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy

POPLARVILLE, Miss. —The Department of Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced Friday that Pearl River Community College will be awarded a $2 million grant for use in the construction of a new Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy at the Stennis International Airport. The grant will be matched with more than $3.9 million in state and local investments and is expected to help create 469 jobs, retain 550 jobs, and generate $5 million in private investments.

“We are honored by the confidence the EDA has placed in Pearl River Community College with this grant award announcement,” PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood said. “The Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District team were exceptional leaders through the entire application process. Without the relentless work and guidance of the SMPDD team this award would have not been possible. We are blessed to have these talented individuals working to create economic development opportunities in our surrounding communities.

“Congressman Palazzo, Senator Cindy-Hyde Smith, Senator Roger Wicker and their respective staffs provided unwavering support and belief in our project. Pearl River Community College remains dedicated to formulating relationships with existing industry partners and exploring new educational programs, curriculums and workforce development opportunities to serve as a catalyst for economic development in our local communities.”

“Through efforts like the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board and the National Council for the American Worker, the Trump Administration is committed to creating opportunities for technical training and manufacturing as a way to provide good jobs for Americans,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said. “Pearl River and other community colleges are essential partners for United States government and businesses.”

“Thank you to Secretary Ross and the Trump Administration for investing in Mississippi to build the Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy,” Governor Phil Bryant said. “This grant will continue to promote the importance of community colleges and technical training programs in our state.”

“Workforce training and development have become a critical part of sustaining Mississippi’s leadership in the aviation and aerospace industries,” Wicker said. “I appreciate President Trump and the Department of Commerce for making technical training a priority across our country. The students trained at this new facility at Stennis will graduate with the skills they need to be successful and contribute to our state’s economic growth.”

“This Aviation and Aerospace Workforce Academy will be an exciting and concrete example of what can be accomplished through a solid vision and strong public-private partnerships,” Hyde-Smith said. “The EDA award complements local, state, and private investments that support the jobs in the growing aerospace industry in Mississippi.”

“Pearl River Community College is committed to strengthening and training Mississippi’s workforce and this grant will only further that support to our state,” Palazzo said. “Many advancements in aerospace have come from or through Mississippi and I look forward to this grant continuing that progress.”


The academy will by an estimated 25,000 square feet and will consist of eight classrooms, five labs, lobby with reception area, faculty and staff offices, break room/kitchenette for staff, indoor sitting/vending area for students and an outdoor courtyard sitting area.

“The PRCC Hancock Aviation Aerospace Workforce Academy will not only be a state-of-the-art, accessible and affordable campus for the students in Hancock County, but it will also provide a steady pipeline of skilled workers to our local businesses and industries today and in the future,” PRCC Director of Government and Community Relations Angie Kothmann said.

The hangar will be an estimated 18,000 square feet and will consist of: two classrooms with labs, open hangar area with hands-on lab stations, outdoor covered area for equipment training, lobby with reception area, faculty and staff offices, break room/kitchenette for staff, small vending area for students. The hangar will offer the following programs: Airframe & Propulsion Technology, Unmanned Arial Systems and Precision Manufacturing.

Every classroom and lab will be designed to be multifunctional and versatile to constantly fit the changing needs of the businesses and industries in this area. Programs listed are the core offerings to start, but they can be changed and added to at any time.

“Governor Bryant provided clear expectations focused on building a skilled workforce to assist industry partners for not only today’s needs but for the future workforce needs of the great State of Mississippi,” Breerwood said. “We are in the final stages of preparing to break ground on these state-of-the-art facilities. We will soon begin offering career pathways to students who are seeking the required knowledge and skill to address the workforce needs of the region for the foreseeable future. Investments of this magnitude are a direct result of open lines of communication between several public and private entities. This announcement has motivated the Pearl River Community College administration, faculty and staff to far exceed the expectations of the task at hand.

“I want to say thank you to Mr. Gil Patterson, Economic Development Administration MS Region and Ms. Myrtis Franke Southern District Director for Senator Cindy-Hyde Smith’s Office who played prominent roles in securing these funds for our Aviation and Aerospace workforce academy.

“I am blessed to work with a group of highly motivated individuals dedicated to serving the needs of our surrounding communities. We are grateful to our local Mississippi legislators who have been overwhelmingly supportive and should be commended for their assistance during this process. It is time to put these investment dollars to work and we are ready to embrace the challenge of creating life-changing opportunities for those we serve.”


The academy will offer diverse educational opportunities including academic, career and technical and workforce programs.

The academy will offer the following programs: Instrumentation, Industrial Electronics Technology, Practical Nursing, Welding & Cutting Technology, Computer Aided Design & Drafting, Business Management Technology, Academic Courses, Workforce Programs, Adult Education/GED.

The programs that will be new to the Hancock location upon its opening are Instrumentation, Airframe & Propulsion Technology, Industrial Electronics Technology, Precision Manufacturing, Computer Aided Design & Drafting and Business Management Technology.

The Aviation Maintenance Technology program is an instructional program that prepares individuals to inspect, repair, service, and overhaul aircraft engine components and systems. This program is designed to prepare the student for the Federal Aviation Administration exams for certification as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician. Industry standards referenced are from the Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 147, Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools (Airframes and Power Plants).

“Pearl River Community College is Mississippi’s fastest-growing community college with enrollment increases for the past seven consecutive semesters,” Breerwood said. “While we are pleased with these record setting enrollment numbers there is still much to accomplish. This award provides us an opportunity for continued growth and expansion while we focus on building a highly skilled workforce to assist and retain existing industry partners and support Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission CEO Bill Cork in attracting new industry partners to our surrounding communities.

“I am humbled and honored for our college and look forward to the positive financial impact a project of this magnitude will bring to our region.”

The hangar is estimated to be completed by Dec. 31, 2020 and the academy by the same date in 2021.

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats) and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG).


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