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The effort to build a workforce development training center in Ashland now has a $4.5 million federal grant behind it.

The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration announced Thursday that Southern Boone County R-1 School District was awarded the grant to construct the Ranken-Ashland Skilled Trade Training Facility.

Once completed, the center will serve six mid-Missouri counties including Callaway.

The federal grant is being matched with $2.9 million in local funds.

According to a EDA press release, the facility is expected to create 163 jobs.

"Now more than ever, Missouri needs skilled, resilient workers to help move our economy forward, and workforce training facilities are a critical part of this," Gov. Mike Parson said in the release. "This project is another great example of what we can accomplish when education, government and the private sector work together, and we look forward to the opportunities it will bring to our students and surrounding communities."

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said there is a gap between the demand for skilled workers and the number of trained workers available.

"This grant will help ensure mid-Missouri has the highly-skilled workforce it needs to recover from the 2019 natural disasters and to create long-term economic growth in the region," Blunt said in the release. "I'm glad to see funding provided by Congress continues to support hard-working Missourians and their families."

The EDA grant is the result of 2019 disaster relief for areas affected by hurricanes, wildfires and volcanic eruptions in 2018 and tornadoes and floods in 2019.

In 2019, mid-Missouri experienced both flooding and tornadoes.

The school, planned to be built on the Southern Boone campus, will be 21,000 square feet.

The effort is the result of a partnership between the school district, the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission, the city of Ashland and Ranken Technical College.

St. Louis-based Ranken Technical College has three current locations in St. Louis, Perryville and Wentzville, offering programs in construction, manufacturing, automotive technology, architecture, electrical and information technology.

Those interested in supporting the effort can contact committee chair Bill Lloyd via email at [email protected].

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