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Western Colorado Community College now offers welding and machining college courses in Montrose

The recent Colorado Mesa University Montrose Economic Report highlighted a recovering and improving economy in Montrose. Western Colorado Community College is responding to new workforce needs by offering both welding and machining college courses at the CMU Montrose Campus.

Housed in the new Sturm Family Manufacturing Center at the Montrose Campus, the welding and machining classes have already proven popular with high school students.

“Students like being able to stay local,” said Gary Ratcliff, Montrose Campus director. “These new courses offer a way to achieve education, training and employment without leaving Montrose.”

Bringing the courses to Montrose involved collaboration between the City of Montrose, Montrose County, local businesses and the Montrose Economic Development Council, all of whom communicated a need for additional workforce training to CMU.

“Our partnerships in Montrose rely on input and direction from the community,” said CMU President Tim Foster. “These two programs, welding and machining, create new opportunities for students in Montrose while at the same time supporting local businesses.”

The machining and welding courses were initially offered during the fall semester to high school students, with the Montrose school district picking up the tuition.

For the spring 2019 semester, the welding and machining courses are open to college students.

“These programs appeal to students who don’t want to be bound to a desk,” said Ratcliff. “They enjoy working with their hands and they are happy being on their feet and working in a field where they can go to a worksite.”

Anticipating the demand for workforce training to grow, Ratcliff likens these new courses to CMU’s successful nursing program in Montrose.

“Students are looking for skills that are mobile — that they can use locally or that can help them get a job anywhere they want to go,” he said.

Currently, enrollment in the new classes is limited by the number of work stations in the Sturm Family Manufacturing Center with welding classes limited to ten students each and machining classes limited to six students each.

Students who complete the courses can earn certificates in either welding or machining with the opportunity to work toward a national credential.

Ratcliff, who sits on the Montrose Economic Development Council, is enthusiastic about the impact of these new offerings in Montrose.

“These new courses address the composition of industry in our area. The expansion of a skilled workforce benefits not only established businesses, but is also a tool for recruiting new businesses to the region. They are a particularly good fit for Montrose.”

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Written by Kristen Lummis, Photos by Gary Ratcliff