Coastal Pines Technical College rolled out plans for a new diploma program during a presentation at the Georgia Marine Workforce Summit last week at Crooked River State Park.
Camden area students will have the opportunity in the near future to earn a 40-hour marine engine technology diploma at the college, which also will offer 15- and 17-hour certificate programs for basic marine engine technician and basic marine servicing technician.
The program fits into the economic development agenda that the Joint Development Authority hopes will bring more employers and more jobs to the county.
Meeting of the minds
The JDA organized the summit so that representatives from the boating industry could explain their staffing and training needs to specialists in workforce, education and government.
The group included a host of marine businesses, nonprofits like the Georgia Marine Business Association and American Boat Builders and Repairers Association, and government agencies like Georgia Department of Labor and WorkSource Georgia. Several local education representatives also attended, including program directors from the public school system and the College of Coastal Georgia.
“Camden County and St. Marys in particular … are aggressively pursuing the marine industry as an industry sector we are trying to develop,” said JDA director James Coughlin. “And in the course of doing so, some of our current employers and some prospective employers that are considering moving to the area have identified workforce as their No. 1 concern.”
Coughlin said this is just the first step in an ongoing dialogue he hopes will continue beyond the summit.
The JDA currently has an option to purchase 50 acres of the former paper mill site at the St. Marys waterfront and hopes to develop into a marine center with some light commercial and residential area surrounding it. The Wharf at St. Marys is envisioned as a place to purchase, store and repair boats.