SMCC receives over $1.75 million to train Maine’s workforce for emerging industries

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine – Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) will receive over $1.75 million in federal funding to help train Maine’s workforce in the Electric Vehicle (EV) Repair and Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industries. Both industries have a significant impact on Maine’s economy as well as seeing enormous growth in workforce needs.

SMCC’s Electric Vehicle Repair Certification program was founded in 2019, the first in Maine. From 2019 to 2022, Maine saw a nearly 90% gain in EV registrations and just over 60% expansion in EV charging station construction. In 2021 the U.S. EV and Hybrid vehicle market share was $273 billion, with projections of reaching $802 billion by 2028.

“SMCC has built a stellar reputation within Maine’s EV community in a very short period,” SMCC’s Dean of Workforce Development & Midcoast Campus Jim Whitten said. “This funding will allow developing SMCC students to help ease the critical staffing needs in the rapidly changing industry while helping Maine consumers maintain their investments to help the environment. The program will allow us to contribute to helping Maine reach the goal of having 30,000 clean energy jobs by 3030.”

“There are already so many EVs on the road, and there are going to be many more over the next few years,” SMCC Automotive Technology Chair Ruth Morrison said. “The need for a workforce to repair new vehicles and the growth of the second and third owner repair markets will only keep growing. This project will keep our space updated and technology current to meet those needs.”

Whitten said the new CEA Greenhouse on the Midcoast Campus in Brunswick is another exciting project that will positively impact Maine’s workforce.

CEA combines engineering, plant science, and computer-managed greenhouse control technologies to optimize plant growing systems, quality, and production efficiency.

“A new state-of-the-art greenhouse will be the jewel of the system. The ability to develop training based on year-round plant growth in a state with challenging weather patterns will be a game-changer for the industry and SMCC students,” Whitten said. “This project will immediately impact the needed workforce with a new Greenhouse Certificate program, workforce skills training, and several industry workshops. The students who leave SMCC will support nearly 30,000 Maine jobs and $600 million of direct economic impact.”

“With the new greenhouse, SMCC students will help Maine businesses participate in the sustainable agricultural processes,” SMCC Horticulture Chair Cheryl Rich said. “We will be able to train our students in year-round, controlled environment agriculture that will help significantly contribute viability to support state-grown produce and products. We have also partnered with Midcoast-area food banks, ensuring produce grown on campus will help Mainers in need.”

SMCC President Joe Cassidy said that additional federal funding creating new partnerships makes this a fantastic time to come to SMCC.

“These two projects will help us to meet our goal of helping improve the lives of Maine’s hardworking people through increased skills in high-demand jobs,” Cassidy said. “The training will put our students in the workforce of several industries that make meaningful differences in our region.”

Cassidy said the addition of SMCC being part of an $8 million University of Maine partnership that creates two new, state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing technology training centers, one on the South Portland Campus and one at our Midcoast Campus in Brunswick, will aid in developing new supply chain strategies and help modernize manufacturing of Maine products of all kinds for years to come.

“Our partnership with the University of Maine will help us train students to improve manufacturing efficiency throughout the region, making a positive impact on Maine’s economy to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars,” Cassidy said.