Lab manufactures skilled Kingman workers

Laron COO says town needs to build an identity

DOUG McMURDO/Miner<BR>
Kingman businesspeople showed up in droves Thursday to take a look at the mobile manufacturing training lab, the result of a public-private partnership designed to educate the region’s workforce. Brandon Warner of Mohave Community College, center, said the college currently offers certification for students, but the ultimate goal is to develop a program that allows students to attain associate degrees in a number of manufacturing disciplines.

DOUG McMURDO/Miner<BR> Kingman businesspeople showed up in droves Thursday to take a look at the mobile manufacturing training lab, the result of a public-private partnership designed to educate the region’s workforce. Brandon Warner of Mohave Community College, center, said the college currently offers certification for students, but the ultimate goal is to develop a program that allows students to attain associate degrees in a number of manufacturing disciplines.

KINGMAN - The region's moderate weather, affordable land, reasonable regulatory environment and its status as a major transportation hub, particularly in Kingman, make it an ideal place for manufacturing companies to set up shop.

But to get them to do so, a qualified workforce must be in place, ready to work, with the skills necessary to do the job.

The effort to educate that workforce officially began Thursday at the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park during a Chamber of Commerce mixer when a public unveiling of a mobile manufacturing training lab took place.

Roughly 140 businesspeople attended the event at the Kingman Airport Authority building and many of them toured the mobile lab, which is contained in a 41-foot trailer that can be hauled to Mohave Community College campuses in Kingman, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City and elsewhere.

In addition to the college, the public-private collaboration also involves the Kingman and Mohave Manufacturing Association, the Mohave County Economic Development Department and One-Stop Career Center, the city of Kingman, and others.

The college purchased the mobile lab with assistance in the form of a grant worth more than $31,300 from the city of Kingman and a $5,000 grant from the Western Arizona Vocational Education District.

Students are already taking advantage of the lab, which features training modules that give them the opportunity to use equipment that is common in manufacturing.

KAMMA leader John Hansen, the chief operating officer at Laron, a company that performs machining, fabrication, millwright and other services, told attendees he believes Mohave County could be a mecca for companies like his, since the only piece of the puzzle that's missing is a skilled workforce.

He said the partnership has three goals.

The first is to help keep existing businesses in business.

"When businesses close, it creates pain in my heart," he said. Not only are the employees out of a job, but also the ripple effect impacts the entire community. "We can make it easier doing business here, grease the skids, if you will."

The second goal is to attract new businesses to the area - or convince existing businesses to relocate here. This can be done, he said, through educating the workforce through the mobile training lab and other initiatives, and educating manufacturers about the area's perks.

The third goal is a bit more esoteric. Hansen said Kingman and the county must build a reputation so when outsiders hear of Kingman or Mohave County, people identify it with a "particular talent."

He said everybody knows Silicon Valley is in Palo Alto, Calif., and everybody knows Silicon Valley is famous for making microchips.

"Why can't Kingman be that community?" he asked rhetorically. "We need to identify and build our talent."

There's a "long list" of things still to be done, Hansen said.

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