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After the announcement of Lucid Motors’ manufacturing plant in Casa Grande a few years ago, much discussion ensued about where the company would find a couple thousand qualified workers. With the later announcement of a Nikola Motor Company truck plant in Coolidge, discussion began to focus on western Pinal County as a high-tech electric vehicle manufacturing center. It is clear that workers will need to come from this area, and others will both move here and commute.

Early on, the management of Lucid, a California-based startup with plenty of expertise, insisted on having a new training center in the area. Central Arizona College stepped up immediately and offered advanced manufacturing classes that have produced workers for other plants in the area as Lucid has been delayed.

While much of the economy has been at a near standstill, the Lucid plant in western Casa Grande has been under construction. The company obviously has a long view of the ever-changing automobile market.

The Arizona Commerce Authority, which is at the forefront of job creation in the state, has led the way to an alliance called Arizona Advanced Technology Network. Behind it are the public, private and academic sectors, which see a need to help provide the workforce of the future. Involved are Pinal’s Central Arizona College along with Pima Community College and the Maricopa County Community College District. The goal is to develop an industry-recognized curriculum that teaches skills needed in advanced manufacturing jobs.

A new 13,000-square-foot training center is planned at CAC’s Signal Peak Campus, with assistance from Pinal County and the city of Casa Grande. Groundbreaking for the $4 million center, paid for by federal and state grants, is expected this year. All manufacturers that can benefit from the curriculum will be included, the ACA says.

Western Pinal has a history of creating good jobs that have lifted its residents, and the cooperative effort behind the tech network and new training center will pay dividends for decades.

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