AIM Southwest - Southwest Solutions Center
Putting the Mid-South to Work
In the advanced manufacturing sector, a total of 732 manufacturing companies in Shelby and Fayette counties employed 36,641 individuals in 2010. New companies are opening plants in the region and others are expanding in 2013. For example, Electrolux is opening a facility to manufacture kitchen appliances and provide 1,240 new jobs. Mitsubishi is opening a production facility to manufacture large electrical transformers that will provide 281 new jobs at an average annual wage of $49,790. These new openings along with other manufacturer expansions represent over 3,000 new local manufacturing jobs in the short term. Demand will remain strong through 2018.
Southwest is meeting this challenge with new and innovative training programs designed with industry partners to prepare the local workforce with the interpersonal, attitudinal and technical skills required. Additional programs provide incumbent training that will eventually lead to college credit. Feedback from employers, as well as early statistics, reveal that employees who have completed our programs are immediately productive and assimilate into work teams quickly. In addition to the 4,000 new jobs coming to Memphis through 2018, more than 40 percent of the current area workforce is expected to retire in the next 10 to 15 years. Our programming will allow advanced training to current employees who can then fill the roles of these experienced workers. Our non-credit staff is working hand-in-hand with our for-credit faculty, ensuring the programming will allow participants to ‘stack’ their credits, leading to associate certificates or degrees and possible transfer to a four-year university.
In June 2012, The Foundation Board voted to launch AIM Southwest, a capital campaign to design and build a 12,000 to 15,000 square foot, two-story facility ideally suited for a world class business and industry training center. The Macon Cove Campus location to the engineering technologies building will allow sharing of resources, including equipment used to train our for-credit and not-for-credit engineering technologies students and our mechanical and electronic industrial maintenance technicians. The estimated building and equipping cost of the facility is $3,500,000. This facility will enable Southwest to prepare an estimated 1,152 individuals trained per year.
Southwest has committed over $1,000,000 in land, equipment, training, and faculty to AIM. We believe we will continue to provide resources as the programs flourish.
Industry partners have donated, thus far, more than $45,000 in time working hand-in-hand with our instructors to bring their company philosophy directly to the students. They have also donated in excess of $80,000 in equipment and are currently forming an advisory committee to help drive curriculum needs.
Our vision includes developing a training center that supports every level of business from front-line worker to managers and executives. This center focuses on closing the achievement gap and bridging the gap from poverty. It highlights earning a living wage and finding pride in employment. It creates a better Tennessee; it educates Tennesseans and ensures better compensated jobs; it delivers industry to a city and county that awaits it; and, it conveys hope to Tennesseans in need of confidence and success. This center advances manufacturing and advances Tennessee. We must move forward now.
Fundraising efforts are underway to build this new facility. The Foundation has received commitments thus far of more than $1 million which includes a challenge grant of $750,000 from a local foundation. We must act now to finish raising the needed dollars for this facility.
Thus far, more than 978 individuals have completed the Industrial Readiness Training program in three years and more than 61 percent were immediately hired. The others went on to receive additional training and another 20 percent were hired. Prior to the class, all of the individuals were either unemployed or underemployed, and the majority of the individuals would not be considered by companies who offer positions that pay a livable wage.
This center is not just about advancing manufacturing. This center is about advancing Memphis. We must move forward now.
See the design below