Harford Community College Holds Ribbon Cutting for Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation

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Dr. Theresa B. Felder, president of Harford Community College (second right), is joined by Carlene Cassidy, executive director of the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation; Dr. James Fielder, secretary of higher education, Maryland Higher Education Commission; and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman at the Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation ribbon-cutting ceremony November 12. (Photo by Lauren L. Raygor)

New program will provide workforce development classes in Edgewood

More than 100 guests attended Harford Community College’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation on November 12. The program featured remarks from Dr. Theresa B. Felder, president of Harford Community College, as well as various elected and state officials followed by demonstrations of simulators, tours of the new classrooms and information about entrepreneurial counseling and training.

Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation will offer programs to address the high demand for workforce development and workers in southeastern Harford County by providing advanced technological proficiencies in the skilled construction trades, manufacturing, warehousing/distribution, and logistics. It is located at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford & Cecil Counties, 2002 Cedar Drive in Edgewood.

“Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation is a game changer. Providing free classes in stackable workforce credentials in high-demand fields helps our students and the community to grow and prosper,” said Felder, the president of Harford Community College. “We are so grateful to the Ratcliffe Foundation for their support of this innovative new project.”

A $1.5 million gift to the Harford Community College Foundation from the Phillip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation established Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation. Classes are free of charge, with no cost to the student. The program also provides completion stipends and tool allowances for     students studying at the Edgewood location.

The Ratcliffe Foundation was created in 2003 by Phillip E. and Carol R. Ratcliffe to provide access to education and training for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to grow their ventures, create jobs and expand economic opportunities in local communities.

“The Ratcliffe Foundation is very pleased to be part of this new Harford Community College program,” said Carlene Cassidy, executive director of the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation. “We support access to education and training, and Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation does just that in southeastern Harford County. It will help to eliminate obstacles for students, like transportation issues, remove the financial burden and improve completion success. It’s a win-win-win for students, the College and local businesses.”

Among the programs that will be offered at Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation will be stackable workforce credentials in heavy equipment operations, welding, machining, forklift certifications, logistics, additive and subtractive manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain and logistics in addition to “soft skills” training. In the future it will also offer HVAC and electrical pre-apprenticeship programs as well as entrepreneurship programs for skilled trades and apprenticeship students and community members seeking financial sustainability through business ownership.

Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation features dedicated classroom space in addition to simulation labs for welding and heavy equipment, additive manufacturing (also known as 3-D printing) and a fabrication lab. The Leading Edge Training Center will promote civic engagement through maker space, entrepreneurship and business acceleration programming.

Additional funding for the program came from the Rural Maryland Council, which assisted in renovating the space at the Boys & Girls Clubs and provided new tools, and from Harford County Government, which funded a simulator to assist Harford Community College students as well as potential county employees in studying for a commercial driver’s license.

Harford County’s state delegation secured state funding to help support the warehousing, supply chain and logistics programming. Those funds will be used for the purchase of a forklift simulator and will assist in the preconstruction of the pole barn that will support the program. 

Harford’s Leading Edge Training Center Powered by the Ratcliffe Foundation is part of Harford Community College’s Edgewood initiative, started two years ago, with a goal of providing greater access to training and education that lead to well-paying, stable careers in southeastern Harford County. Several barriers–transportation, child care and technology–were identified as reasons why many southeastern Harford County residents are unable to access programs and opportunities on Harford Community College’s main campus in Bel Air.

A feasibility study, conducted by MGT Consulting and issued in 2019, concluded that skilled trades, manufacturing, and warehousing/distribution and logistics were key industry sectors for expanded career training offerings in southeastern Harford County. In addition, the College is working with several community organizations, including government, nonprofit, academic and private sector partners, to relieve unemployment and underemployment while creating opportunities for innovation, entrepreneurship and career exploration.

For more information visit harford.edu.

About Harford Community College

Harford Community College offers more than 90 affordable degree and certificate programs of study as well as a variety of noncredit community education and workforce development courses. Located on 352 acres near Bel Air, Md., Harford Community College has been helping Harford Countians achieve their goals since 1957. For more information, visit harford.edu.

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