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Workforce training center opens in Litchfield

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(The Center Square) – The new South Central Illinois Regional Workforce Training and Innovation Center in Litchfield is open, thanks to $8.6 million in funding from tax and fee increases.

State and local officials cut the ribbon on the training facility this week to serve Montgomery and Macoupin counties. Litchfield Mayor Steve Daugherty said the new facility will be instrumental in training the next generation of workers.

“All the way down to kindergarten, we’re going to teach kids the importance of going to work and the ability to succeed,” Daugherty said.

McKay Auto Parts President Earl Flack said the workers coming out of the facility will be invaluable to the business community.

“Between 2022 and 2026, there will be a 1 million technician shortage, 1 million. That’s in the automotive, the diesel, the collision and aviation. So you talk about a growing field, we’re in a growing field right here,” Flack said. “And what’s more complicated than a car and truck that’s got several cameras on today, so the technician need is real.”

Litchfield School Board President Julie Abel said the new facility is born out of the education, business and labor sectors coming together.

“Your dedication and relentless pursuit of the successful completion of this project is admirable and will leave a lasting impact for students, local businesses and the communities located in south central Illinois,” Abel said.

Longtime education administrator and member of the Illinois State Board of Education Roger Eddy, said without such collaboration, a vision for the center wouldn’t have amounted to much.

“Thomas Edison famously stated ‘vision without execution is hallucination,’” Eddy said. “There’s no hallucination here. This is real.”

The facility will train both high school students as well as displaced workers in various trades with a full-scale automotive garage, welding center and separate areas to train on other skills.

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