TSTC Uses Funding, Collaboration to Help Small Businesses

(WACO) – Texas State Technical College is using partnerships and available funding to help small businesses with workforce training and development.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy,” said Isidro Ramos, a business relationship manager for Workforce Training at TSTC in Harlingen.

The Texas Workforce Commission’s Skills for Small Business program is a way the technical college has helped improve workers’ skills. The program enables businesses with less than 100 employees to work with the commission, who in turn makes funding available for colleges to provide training.

TSTC currently has $395,000 in Skills for Small Business grants statewide.

“With SSB’s, TSTC can serve small businesses on a course-by-course, employee-by-employee basis,” said Carliss Hyde, vice president for sponsored programs at TSTC in Waco. “The funds enable the workforce team to find creative ways to collaborate with business owners needing specific training for their employees.”

TSTC has used TWC money to host recent trainings on Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines at the Williamson County campus in Hutto and on CPR, first aid and automated external defibrillator usage in Waco.

Employees at Coppera Plumbing and Commercial Services in Taylor have attended the continuing education classes. Coppera has less than 20 employees and a service area extending from San Antonio to Waco to College Station.

“The reason we took the classes is because owners and general contractors are looking for companies that have good safety records,” said Sam Dowdy, Coppera’s general manager.

Dowdy said he liked the convenience of TSTC having a presence in Williamson County.

“We will definitely continue looking at graduates from TSTC,” Dowdy said. “They are looking for careers in the trades and we are looking for people that want careers in the trades.”

Outreach is taking place in other ways, too.

TSTC in Harlingen is working with Workforce Solutions Cameron, the U.S. Small Business Administration and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Small Business Development Center on the Small Business Initiative. The centerpiece of the effort will be a needs-assessment survey being sent before the end of January to several of Cameron County’s small business owners to gather input on workforce needs.

“Hopefully we will get a good response, and in the end, we want to have a training calendar that the small businesses can access,” said Ramos.