Training hub takes shape

Published 4:02 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If plans come to fruition, a new workforce development center just east of Windsor could provide area residents with the specialized training they need to compete for the warehousing and distribution jobs promised by companies such as CenterPoint Properties.

CenterPoint has announced its desire to build a $325 million warehousing and distribution facility on 900 acres along Suffolk’s Holland Road corridor. The company says that 7,000 jobs eventually could be created by or attributed to the facility.

In giving the green light for the purchase of 100 acres that would be dominated by a proposed new workforce center aimed at training people for careers in warehousing and distribution, Isle of Wight supervisors acknowledged the widespread belief that the industry is set for a boom in Southside Virginia.

The $2.4-million property is located across Route 460 from the county’s Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park, a 350-acre facility that the county sees as the foundation of its plans to attract warehousing and distribution companies seeking to support the growing Port of Virginia.

While the industrial park serves as a foundation for the county’s economic development plans, the workforce center can give area residents the educational foundation they need to move into that industry, officials said this week.

Isle of Wight Director of Economic Development Lisa Perry said Monday that the county has been working with Paul D. Camp Community College, Opportunity Inc. and other groups to make sure that the new facility meets the needs of potential employers.

The building will feature computer labs, high-bay space, areas for forklift training and space to set up manufacturing lines, she said. The specialized spaces will set it apart from other area workforce centers, including another one affiliated with PDCCC in Franklin.

The difference in focus, she said, means the two facilities should not really compete with each other. College officials have worked with the county, she added, to help fine-tune the direction of the proposed new building.

“We’re thrilled to have PDC as our partner,” Perry said. “They’re very excited about it, and we are, too.”