KETCHIKAN — A building is being transformed into work space and dorms for the Southern Southeast Alaska Technical Development Center in Ketchikan.
The Ketchikan Indian Community is behind the $2.2 million project to transform by March he 15,600-square-foot structure that formerly housed Community Connections, the Ketchikan Daily News reported.
The building is next to the center’s vocational center, and will provide affordable short- and long-term living units to training participants on the upper level.
The lower level will host social service departments to address workforce requirements and other services to help clear workplace barriers, like earning a GED, getting a driver’s license or meeting drug-screening requirements.
“The most interesting and unique part of our vocational training center is that it incorporates workforce behaviors that need to be addressed through social services,” said Charles Edwardson, workforce development director of SSEATEC. “It’s a holistic approach to vocational training.”
That component has been missing, he said.
“Training is the easy part, the physical plant (facility) is the easy part,” he said. “Addressing why people aren’t getting employed, those social barriers need to be addressed. We need to help in that regard.”
The building will enable the center to reach a goal of providing training opportunities for people throughout the region.
“We finally have the physical plant in southern Southeast Alaska to become a regional training center,” Edwardson said. “We wanted it to be not only convenient for out-of-town residents, but for our local guys.”
The state of Alaska has provided funding for both the vocational center ($1.1 million) and the entire $2.2 million for the new structure.
Ketchikan Indian Community borrowed about $3.5 million to invest in the buildings.
The vocational training center opened in 2011, and more than 1,000 people have taken part in various programs.
The center has also partnered with entities like the Alaska Marine Highway System and local industry to provide relevant training tailed to specific needs.