Carroll Community College was awarded a $325,000 grant yesterday to establish a regional center that will provide high technology training to the agricultural industry in Carroll, Howard, Washington and Montgomery counties.
The grant is part of a $2.8 million statewide initiative announced by Gov. Parris N. Glendening to promote technology training for employees in private business.
The "advanced technology centers" will be based at community colleges throughout Maryland.
Glendening approved the funding yesterday for nine centers that will offer courses at 19 community colleges.
They will provide training in a variety of areas identified as crucial to a growing economy.
These include aerospace, agriculture and aquaculture, biotechnology, distribution/warehousing, health care, information technology, tourism and telecommunications.
"To be competitive in a fast-paced, global economy our businesses must be able to adapt quickly to changes in technology and have access to state-of-the-art training for their employees," Glendening said in a statement.
The centers will be at community colleges because in many cases these institutions were providing similar services.
"They already helped local businesses train their workers, but they needed help," said Kia Roach, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Business and Economic Development.
Services at the Carroll Community College center will include training in applications of new technology in the agricultural industry and providing assistance for agricultural businesses trying to get off the ground, said Karen Merkle, vice president for extended learning and innovative technology at the college.
"The primary purpose is to keep agriculture viable and strong in the region," Merkle said.
Carroll Community College developed the application for the $324,826 grant with community colleges in Howard, Montgomery and Washington counties, and the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.
Frederick Community College and the Greater Baltimore and Upper Shore advanced technology centers will collaborate on individual projects.
The grant will cover technology consultants, equipment and a director to coordinate the effort.
Merkle said center course offerings might address the use of satellite global positioning system in farming, animal reproductive technology and international marketing possibilities for farmers.
The center also will help in the development of niche or emerging agricultural markets, such as fresh flowers and shiitake mushrooms, Merkle said.
Some of the training will be done through interactive video and the Internet, so farmers can obtain information and take online courses.
This is the second year of the "advanced technology center" initiative.
4 centers opened in 1996
Last year, the state put up $2 million to launch four advanced, technology centers at community colleges on the Eastern Shore, in Baltimore and in Southern Maryland.
The centers provided training to more than 10,450 workers at more than 150 companies during the first nine months of operation, according to state Department of Business and Economic Development.
Pub Date: 08/27/97